Review of Lucy’s Cave: A Story of Vicksburg, 1863
Lucy’s Cave: A Story of Vicksburg, 1863
Written & Illustrated by Karen B. Winnick
Boyds Mill Press: Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2008: 32 pp.
There are plenty of Civil War stories, but I imagine that few children are aware of the Union Army’s siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863.
In yet another of her historical picture books, Winnick focuses on a relatively little-known aspect of that war: namely, the decision by many families to hide in the hillside caves that surrounded the city.
Winnick bases her emphatically fictional work on the first-hand narrative of one of the children who experienced the siege, 11-year-old Lucy McRae, who later published her recollections in Harper’s Weekly in 1912.
Her atmospheric illustrations—taken from Winnick’s painstakingly crafted oil paintings—effectively convey the urgency Lucy and her family felt in fleeing the city under attack, as well as the shadowy uncertainties and crowded conditions inside the caves.
It’s a story that would illuminate an aspect of the Civil War for curious third- and fourth-graders (a fun choice for a book report), and one that would undoubtedly provide many teachable moments.
For young readers who are interested in more Civil War stories, there’s also “Cassie’s Sweet Berry Pie,” about another young girl in Mississippi.
While Winnick clearly enjoys writing about history, she has also written books for pre-schoolers, such as “Barn Sneeze” that features animals, and “A Year Goes Round: Poems for the Months,” which would be appealing to kindergarteners and first graders.#