Monday, June 7, 2010

Book - Belle in the Slouch Hat

Her brother Bud’s death, during the Civil War, left Belle Brayden, a fifteen year old girl, grieving. Finding her brother’s slouch hat and then putting it on gave her the courage to go on. Her new adventure takes her to a friend of her brothers, which he had talked about all the time. Maude helped some of the Confederate soldiers, especially those in Quantrill’s group, which Bud had been a part of. After watching her beloved horse shot and killed, then almost drowning herself, she could have given up. Locating the strength to go on was not enough for Belle though. Some how, some way she needed to help. She needed to seek the man responsible for her brothers death, she needed to warn other towns and other people of the approaching army and she needed to heal her heart. During the Civil War these should be difficult tasks, but through Belle’s perseverance she is able to accomplish quite a lot, quite quickly. When she is given information about a raid on a nearby town, she quickly realizes that her cousin Winnie and Uncle Richard live there and she wastes no time in riding to their aide.

A touching story about loss and the determination to not only survive, but to help others to survive also. A look at anther aspect to the tragic losses in war time - from a sister’s point of view. The courage of the character of Belle is inspirational in it’s honest way of dealing with the losses in her life. Maude has a mix of Native American’s and white man’s spiritual ways of encouraging while letting Belle do things and figure things out for herself. Belle shows grace and compassion, yet she still stumbles up the steps and suffers with confusion but never indecision. Just the right mix of spunk and spirit leads Belle into many adventures and many dangerous situation, but belief in herself and her brothers horse seemed to always help her through it. The book does move a bit slow and the way the narration and dialogue seemed to repeat each other was little annoying at times, but still a very good way to open up the topic of the Civil War with a younger generation.
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