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School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-The Civil War is over and Tyler Bohannon, 12, begins a trek that will take him from his secure home in Sweet Creek, Missouri, to Eagle Pass, Texas. His goal is to find and bring back his father, who joined General Jo Shelby and the Confederates four years earlier. Soon after setting out, Bigger, a fierce, apparently abused dog, becomes Tyler's companion. Their odyssey is one of body, mind, and spirit. They face hunger, heat, and exhaustion; in a brief meeting with a scarred, orphaned black boy, Tyler confronts the brutality of slavery; and walking over Pea Ridge, he is horrified by the bones littering the battlefield. He finally finds his father, but the man is hardened in his resolve to settle his score with the Union, and refuses to go home. As the boy tries to understand this rejection, he must face further heartbreak when, on the way home, Bigger is killed. Through strong characters, flowing narrative, geographic description, and historical detail, Calvert draws readers into her hero's life and times. Although he endures a heavy dose of adversity, the boy is not extraordinary. His resilience stems from his realization that loyalty, love, and courage take many forms. Readers will relate to his friendship with Bigger, his emerging social consciousness, and his struggle to accept the loss of his dreams and the hard realities of the adult world.-Gerry Larson, Chewning Middle School, Durham, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.