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Peck, Richard.
New York :  Dial, 2003.
ISBN 0803727356

(5 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Howard and his father are traveling to visit Howard's grandparents in Illinois.  It's an exciting trip for Howard as his father has let him help with the new Model T Ford.  The year is 1916 and Howard looks at the peeling wallpaper on the walls, he wonders how many layers would have to be peeled to find the young people that these people must have been.  Grandma Tilly helps him understand when she tells him the story of the family's experience during the Civil War.  Tilly's family held allegiance to the North as did most of the people in the town.  But one day, an elegant young woman from New Orleans arrived and changed the family forever.

Booktalk #2

The River Between Us is an historical novel set in the small town of Grand Tower, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The book begins in 1916 with 15-year-old Howard Leland Hutchings traveling back to Grand View with his father, to visit elderly relatives there. While there, Howard learns the history of his family in Civil War times, when Howard’s grandparents were growing up in that town. It was a period of great change for most of America’s families, and the Pruitt family, Mrs. Pruitt, the twins Noah and Tilly, and Cass, the youngest, are no different. Noah dreams of military glory, while Tilly and Mrs. Pruitt worry about the coming war and losing Noah to it. Cass has vivid visions of men, lots of men, dying. The two girls and their brother have lived very simply at home with their mother until one night when a Mississippi steamboat from New Orleans arrives in Grand Tower. Two passengers, a beautiful young woman and a woman of darker complexion who may be her slave, or at least her maid, have escaped from the South just before the war begins. What is the secret of their impact on the Pruitt family, and how will all these people experience the coming war? This mystery and adventure tale is a real page-turner, lyrically written, set in a crucial American time period.  (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #3

The story opens in the year 1916, and Howard Hutchings, his doctor father and his young twin brothers are traveling in a Model T to Grand Tower, Illinois to visit Howard’s grandparents, great-aunt, and great-uncle. The story then flashes back to the year 1861.  Howard’s Grandma Tilly relates the events that occurred to their family during the Civil War.  A steamboat from New Orleans brings two strangers to their town, the glamorous Delphine and her companion Calinda.  Tilly’s mother offers to take them in, since things are too dangerous for them to continue their trip to St. Louis, and they have no where to go. Delphine is fair and beautiful, but what about the darker-skinned woman, Calinda?   Could she possibly be Delphine’s slave? Tilly learns more about these two mysterious women when she and Delphine travel to the battlefront to find her injured brother, Noah.  For a look into the female experiences during the Civil War, read The River Between Us. Find out more about New Orleans society during this period, and read this richly layered book which reveals some of the harsh realities of the Civil War.  (Betty Neal,   South Carolina Book Awards, 2006)

Booktalk #4

Young Howard Leland Hutchings learns his father’s true history when he makes a special trip to his father’s old home “astride the Devil’s Backbone.” He meets his grandmother Tilly, her husband Doctor Hutchings (his grandfather) and Noah, Tilly’s twin brother and his wife, Delphine. He discovers his family’s secret.  Black-eyed Susan Award nominee 2005-2006

Booktalk #5

The year is 1916. Howard and his dad are visiting relatives in Grand Tower, Illinois. Grandma Tilly is quite a storyteller and Howard learns what the town was like in 1861. The Civil War was going on and the fighting was coming closer and closer to Grand Tower. One day a steamboat from New Orleans came to their Mississippi town. Two beautiful young women got off the boat. The town was not happy when Tilly’s mama invited them to stay with her. The glamorous women with French accents were the talk of the town. Some thought they were Confederate spies. Mama trusted them, yet Tilly and her sister kept trying to find out what they had in their large trunks. Just looking at the beautiful dresses made her wonder about them. When Tilly’s brother Noah joined the Union army, the family had more serious concerns. Mama did not hear from Noah for a long time and feared he might be wounded. She asked Tilly and Delphine to go to one of the military camps and see if Noah was there. Their concern for Noah and the awful conditions of the military camp brought the girls together. They found Noah near death and worked to get him healthy enough to make the trip back home. As Grandma Tilly’s story comes to a close, Howard is surprised to learn the true identity of the travelers from New Orleans and their place in Howard’s family history.  Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, 2005-2006

SUBJECTS:     United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Fiction.
                        Racially mixed people -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- Illinois -- Fiction.
                        Race relations -- Fiction.
                        New Orleans (La.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Fiction.
                        Illinois -- History -- 1778-1865 -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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