Reviewed by Chris-Jean Clarke for Readers’Favorite
Sarah Campbell:Tale of a Civil War Orphan by Nancy Dane highlights the plight of Sarah Campbell. Sarah feels her world has been torn apart as she watches (from her hiding place) whilst her Ma and Pa are shot dead by Bushwhackers, stripped of their valuables, and their home looted. After the Bushwhackers have departed, a traumatized Sarah is found by her neighbor, Mr. Thomas, who travels with her to the Fort Smith Mercantile. However, he leaves her there without introducing her to anyone, just assuming she will be taken care of. Fortunately for Sarah, the kindly storekeeper contacts Chaplain Springer and arranges for her to stay at the orphanage with Mrs. Tolliver. Sarah initially believes that as soon as her older sister, Sissy, and her husband, John, discover their family’s plight, everything will be okay as they will arrange for her to live with them. She soon learns, however, that this may not be the case as the Chaplain, fearful for the children’s safety with regards to the ongoing war, has made plans for all the children to travel north to the orphanage in Illinois.
Nancy Dane has given much thought to how her main character, Sarah, would be indifferent to the rights or needs of the Rebel soldiers as she has likened their actions to the Bushwhackers, who killed her parents and destroyed their family home. However, I applaud the fact that Ms. Dane, in her creativity, refuses to let Sarah remain embittered, but instead chooses to portray her as a strong, feisty girl who is more than willing to stand up for others’rights, without worrying about the trouble she may be courting for herself. I also love the fact that Nancy Dane has included a set of study questions and activities at the end of the book which will make this a delightful educational tool for Key Stage 2 teachers when their pupils are learning about the Civil War. I truly wish this author well with this series of books.