Cover image for Joseph : 1861 - a rumble of war
Joseph : 1861 - a rumble of war
Pryor, Bonnie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow Junior Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
170 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
After his stepfather becomes an abolitionist, ten-year-old Joseph struggles with his own thoughts about slavery as he sees its divisive power in his small Kentucky town.
Reading Level:
680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 4.0 40135.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.3 6 Quiz: 17644 Guided reading level: V.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When Joseph Byers tumbles down a steep riverbank and is almost drowned, he discovers a cave that becomes a refuge for him and his friends, Zachary and David. Here they can escape the bitter divisions in their small town of Branson Mills, Kentucky.

The nation is on the brink of Civil War, and in Branson Mills, most people favor the South. But Joseph's new stepfather, Henry Byers, is an abolitionist, and his stand against slavery causes trouble for Joseph. His beloved father owned slaves, but even that doesn't keep him from being an outcast at school.

As the tensions in Branson Mills grow, Joseph finds it harder to deny the rightness of his stepfather's views. Finally he is forced to choose which side he's on. This gripping page-turner, set during one of the most turbulent times in our nation's history, makes for a powerful American Adventure.

Author Notes

Bonnie Pryor was born in California and raised in Spokane, Washington. She has lived in Ohio with her husband Robert and six children for the last 30 years. She has written 32 books, both picture books and novels for elementary age children. Her books include mysteries, family stories and historical fiction. Many of the family stories are loosely based on true family incidents and she often use her own children as characters in her books.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-7. For 11-year-old Joseph, 1861 brings unwelcome changes, both political and personal. His small town of Branson Mills, Kentucky, is divided on issues of slavery and secession. Having grown up in a slaveholding household, Joseph can't understand his new stepfather's abolitionist views. Then Joseph witnesses a slave auction, and is shocked by the slaves' inhumane treatment. And when he discovers two young runaway slaves in his barn, he must choose between the law and his heart. The story, from a youth's perspective, makes history more imaginable for a young audience. Simple prose, diverse characters, period details, and dramatic events will engage them in the emotions and lifestyles of "typical" towns and families in a time of unrest. Although issues are simplified for the target audience, Joseph is a likable, layered character who illustrates that things are not as simple as right or wrong--in friendships, family, and politics. Illustrations not seen. --Shelle Rosenfeld

School Library Journal Review

ÄÄÄÄ. Luke: 1849-On the Golden Trail. 160p. ISBN 0-688-15670-3. LC number unavailable. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.