I have always been intrigued with the Civil War. It is about the most complicated war in the history books, from the reasons to the logistics, but the uniforms and the culture have such an allure to modern armchair history buffs. In her book, Calkhoven successfully places her character into the battle and whittles it into something that can be easily followed. She correctly gets the boy from one end of the battle to the other in a realistic manner and allows him to meet and interact with historic figures in a way that seems like it could have actually happened.
Laurie Calkhoven's website provides a synopsis of the book:
Twelve-year-old Will wants to be a drummer in the Union army, but he's stuck far from the fighting in his sleepy hometown of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Then the Union and Confederate armies converge on Gettysburg, and suddenly Will and his family are caught up in the battle.
Even though Will at the Battle of Gettysburg is a story about the deadliest battle in the deadliest war in U.S. history, Calkhoven very successfully depicts it for young readers. At the same time, she does not water down the human element. Bullets still fly and hit their targets. Surgeons still resort to bone saws. Severed arms and legs still get tossed into piles. The stench of death is unbearably real.