Interactive Historical Fiction e-books

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Jayhawker by Patricia Beatty


A few years before the beginning of the Civil War, seeds of unrest are already planted in America due to disagreement over slavery. On one side are the bushwhackers – Missourians and others who believe strongly in slavery and would kill to preserve it. On the other side are the Jayhawkers – abolitionists who fight to put an end to slavery, sometimes by brutal means.  

Enter Elijah Tulley, a young Kansas boy who comes of age amidst this chaos. His father is a staunch abolitionist and teaches Elijah by example to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves – sometimes endangering himself in the process. Elijah is just beginning to learn the ways of being a Jayhawker when tragedy strikes the Tulley family, and now, Elijah must make a choice: allow the evil around him to flourish, or stand up and do something about it.  

From the late author of many fine historicals, an authentic picture of a boy caught in the turmoil of the Civil War— abolitionist Lije Tulley, 13, already experienced in the bitter strife between Missouri and Kansas, is sent to Missouri to spy on Quantrill’s raiders. Strong adherents of the fanatical John Brown, the Tulleys are among the “Jayhawkers” who rescue slaves from Missouri before the war. Lije sees his Pa killed during a raid; later, in retaliation, the family’s house is burned by Missouri “Bushwackers.” Hoping to avenge these wrongs and help the Union, Lije agrees in 1861 to pose as a Bushwacker supporter. During two years on a Missouri farm, he meets raiders Frank and Jesse James and Jim (later “Wild Bill”) Hickok as well as Quantrill, fearfully participating in their activities but successfully evading hurting anyone on his true side. When Jesse catches Lije passing information, Hickok surprises Lije by helping to convince Jesse that it’s just a love note. Unable to evade the sharp-eyed, suspicious Jesse, Lije is forced to join the terrible raid on Lawrence, Kansas, where he is wounded but manages to escape to his family. The characters here take second place to the excitement of skillfully reconstructed historical events; “Bloody Kansas” emerges in a story richly endowed with real events and people (carefully differentiated from the fictional characters in a lengthy author’s note). A gripping story; an excellent supplement to texts or histories of the period.
— Kirkus Reviews