for Young People  


My Brothers' Keeper

My family loved history. When I was a little girl, my mother read letters to me which had been written by my great, great uncles, two brothers from Rochester, NY.  The brothers left home when they were young to fight in the Civil War.  Mother kept the letters and some pictures in a black box decorated with gold hearts and flowers.  I was heartbroken when I learned that the youngest brother, George Peocock, had been killed in an ambush in Virginia while he was still a teenager.

I still have the letters. They are yellow now, the edges bent down and crinkled and the ink faded. These letters, and the story my mother wove as she was reading them, were the inspiration for my book My Brother’s Keeper, published by Down East Books, Camden, Maine, and cover illustration by Jim Sollers.  I used parts from the letters in the story. In August 1861,  my great, great uncle, Charlie Peocock, wrote:

“As I passed through one of the back streets of Alexandria I saw a building 3 stories high built of brick with the sign Price Birch & Co Dealer in Slaves. It struck me as something different from anything I had ever seen before.”

If you go to Alexandria today, that building is still there, near the waterfront. Read the letter Carrie wrote to her Uncle George when she was eight years old:

Sunday, March 8, 1863

Dear Uncle George,
     Papa is going to help me write to   you. Uncle Charlie has been home and I wished you were here, too. He came in the night. I was awful glad to see him.
     I wanted to go to Sunday School today, but it has been snowing. I have learned a whole Psalm. I have almost read my second book through.
     Mama sends a kiss to you and of course I send one, too, or two.
                   From your niece, Tute

In addition to the letters and stories from my family, I did many months of research.  Traveling to the places I was writing about, I climbed the rocky hill of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and stood  in the peaceful Virginia woods where my great, great uncle had been killed in an ambush in 1863.  I found that three-story brick building in Alexandria.  The lettering, Price Birch & Co Dealer in Slaves is still visible.  So I used it in my book (Take the Virtual Tour to see all of these sites).

As an author writing for young people, it is important to me that my books be historically accurate, even though they are fiction.  I hope my books will spark an interest in young readers to find out more about this tragic, and yet awesome, war.