Saturday, August 29, 2009


STONEWALL HINKLEMAN AND THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, by Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger (Dial 2009). Twelve-year-old Stonewall Traveler Hinkleman was named after a general who got shot by his own troops, and a horse. His parents are Civil War re-enactors and he's sick of having to spend weekends in leaky tents and wearing itchy, hot, wool clothing, and could there be anything more dorky than being the bugle boy?

But then he encounters a pretty girl, a corrupt politician, and a mysterious vendor, and suddenly finds himself transported back into the real First Battle of Bull Run Manassas, where he will need to use all the knowledge he's unwillingly picked up over the years to prevent the South from rising again and changing the course of American history.

STONEWALL HINKLEMAN is an entertaining and sophisticated romp that nevertheless provides a serious look at the first battle of the Civil War. The sarcastic, first-person voice is just right and gradually grows less snarky, more thoughtful (but still full of wit), as Stonewall experiences the real, not re-enacted battle, and grows to appreciate the real people involved therein. In STONEWALL HINKLEMAN, Hemphill and Riddleburger have succeeded in the difficult task of pulling off a novel based around a grim historical event that is both fun and thought-provoking.

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