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Send 'Em South: Young Heroes of History    by Alan Kay order for
Send 'Em South
by Alan Kay
Order:  USA  Can
White Mane, 2001 (2001)
* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

The American Civil War is brought to a young audience, by way of a series of books called The Young Heroes of History, by high school history teacher Alan Kay. The first three books detail the progressive stories of the young members of two families, the Adams - an Irish immigrant family - and Lisa and Jack, two runaway slaves. The stories center on George and David Adams, young cousins, and Lisa, the young daughter of Jack.

In this first book, Send 'Em South, Jack has decided to run away from his Georgia slave owner along with his twelve-year-old daughter, Lisa. After traveling on foot for several days, they take ship with a sympathetic captain who has agreed to transport them to Baltimore, Maryland. Jack poses as a sailor, but Lisa has to stay inside a wooden box the entire trip. From Baltimore, they plan to make their way to Boston, Massachusetts, but Jack has an accident while crossing a fast-moving river and Lisa loses track of him. Alone, Lisa finds her way to Boston. There she hopes to eventually meet her mother, who was sold three years ago but had agreed with Lisa's father to run to Boston when Lisa turned twelve.

Meanwhile, David and George have their own problems, albeit of a much less serious nature. They are Irish immigrants, at the time considered only slightly above the Negroes on the social scale. David and George actually have it much better than many of their compatriots because they are related to an established non-Irish family in the area, but this relationship leads to problems, since the other Irish resent their higher social status. David, George and Lisa meet in Boston while she is running from slave catchers, who have caught up with her due to information received from a first mate on the ship that carried them to Baltimore. David and George must decide whether or not to help Lisa, and if they do, how involved they actually want to be.

Though inconsistencies in use of language, and an occasional use of profanity (not necessary for historical integrity), detract somewhat from the story, it is certainly a more interesting and exciting way to learn about the American Civil War than by reading a history book (note that, though it is promoted for ages 10 and up, I don't recommend it for elementary school children).

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