Published by Macmillan on February 16th 2016
Genres: historical, middle grade, young adult
Would you ever run off to join the army, leaving your family behind? That's what nine-year-old John Lincoln Clem does in 1861.
Determined to fight for his country, Johnny sneaks onto a train filled with men from the 3rd Ohio Union Regiment. Taken in by the older soldiers, Johnny becomes a drummer boy, and later, takes up his own musket. As the war rages on, Johnny experiences the brutalities of battle as well as the rampant illness and gnawing hunger in between. But the most dangerous part of Johnny’s journey is yet to come.
Based on a True Story books are exciting historical fiction about real children who lived through extraordinary times in American History.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I don’t read a lot in the middle grade category. Even though I know the first half of the series is clearly in the realm of it, I didn’t really even consider Harry Potter middle grade until recent years when I evaluated it with a more critical eye rather than a fan’s (and I’d still argue that it’s borderline and with the first three books, but the growth beyond the third takes it away from the MG category… my opinion).
Okay. So I’m getting off topic. Yeah, I don’t read a lot of MG. But the last few weeks I have been craving historical fiction like nuts. I did this at the start of last year, except with fantasy mostly, so I knew I was in a mood and if I want to stay out of any real heavy slumps I need to keep to what I really desire at this time so there’s not any forceful reading.
I’d received Clem in the mail a few months back from Macmillan which had actually made me pretty happy. Sure, it’s MG, but it’s historical, and during a time period I like reading on. Plus, maybe I needed to try some new things this year. Great way to give me some baby steps.
Here’s what I really liked: This is MG I can completely back and would love to see handed out to kids, in libraries, and read in classrooms. It’s not only a true story but it teaches valued lessons, isn’t confusing to a reader about events and a time that can get confusing during lessons sometimes (personally I’d suggested it for readers age 9 and up, depending on reading level). Being a bit of a history dork myself, I found it entertaining while remaining factual. This small book could easily breed a new generation of history lovers. Or at least garner more interest… and build the demand back for more history lessons and more diverse events taught throughout in school curriculums.
This is just a story of a boy… mind you, acting a bit bratty and running away at a young age… But for this boy, he inspired and could inspire, so many. If you like history or MG, read his story. I’m glad I did. I just wish it’d been longer. That’s always my downfall with the middle grade reads. I always want so much more than what they give. But now I know about him and a piece of his story at least. I think the bigger impact will be with the targeted audience. Send it to school!!