Guts for Glory: The Story of Civil War Soldier Rosetta Wakeman

Eerdmans. Feb. 2024. 56p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780802854643.
Gr 3-6–As the years of civil war between North and South continued, a young woman named Rosetta Wakeman, bored with the chores at home, carefully cut off her braid, bound her breasts, and went to war as Lyons Wakeman from 1862-1864. She fought at some of the most expansive battles, but two years later, when barely 21, she died of dysentery, which took more lives than war. This is the broad outline of Lapati’s remarkable book, which has back matter that in some ways is even more compelling than Wakeman’s life. Lapati became a Civil War reenactor to understand better what Wakeman went through, limned thoroughly in an author’s note. Her illustration notes are just as helpful, explaining scratchboard artistry and the fine lines, the forgiveness of the medium, and how she brought marching and battle scenes to life. Also included is a time line of events, which in itself is a condensed version of U.S. history at the time. Among all these riches, rendered in sepia tones and full-color that has the patina of archival photographs, children will come away with a real sense of the drudgery of a young woman’s life at home, the risks of being on the road in the company of rowdy soldiers (Lyons could dish it out, too), and the poetry, through letters home, Wakeman found in her role.
VERDICT Epic is an overused word—most of the time. It barely begins to explain the tremendous work and vision behind this sensational piece of compelling nonfiction that truly is a picture book for young readers and adults.

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