Friday, April 16, 2010

Time Travel Adventure

Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run
by Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger
Penguin
2009

As soon as I heard the premise of this book, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of it.  Stonewall Hinkleman is tired of being dragged to his parent's Civil War re-enactments every weekend.  He'd much rather be curled up at home, eating junk food, and playing Game Boy than sleeping in makeshift tents and roughing it without "farby" modern conveniences.  His father has drilled into him the importance of respecting history, especially since Great-Great-Uncle Cyrus died in the Civil War.  Stonewall sarcastically reminds his dad that Cyrus was shot in the butt and died of infection.  Nothing heroic about that.

My own parents are Civil War re-enactors, so I could really relate.  Like Stonewall, I have found myself drawing blank stares from classmates when trying to explain troop movements on Little Round Top or some such thing.  Here's a picture of my dad, on a Revolutionary War weekend at a local fort.


I actually found Stonewall's whining to be a bit grating at first.  But, I'm glad I stuck out the first two chapters, as things really improve when his bugle magically sends him back in time to the real Civil War.  I love the quote, "I've always hated it in movies when somebody goes back in time and it takes them half of the movie to stop saying, "I must be dreaming." No, you know right away. At least, I do."

Freshly arrived at the Battle of Bull Run, he runs into his ancestor, Cyrus, and realizes that staunch modern-day Confederate Mr. Dupree has traveled back as well, hoping to change the course of history.  Dupree has carelessly brought his daughter Ashby along with him, whom Stonewall is nursing a small crush on.  Cyrus turns out to be much more literate and recklessly brave than Stonewall could have imagined.  I appreciated that the authors took care to point out negative aspects such as the scariness of battle, the racism of the day, the greediness of the sutlers without being too overwhelming.  I felt that Stonewall Jackson's transformation to a modern-day hippie was a bit of a stretch, but anything's possible, I suppose.  This was a satisfyingly fun time-travel adventure.  You know that Stonewall Hinkleman will prevail at the end, but it certainly is fun seeing how he gets there.

I borrowed this book from the library.

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