How I Found The Strong

A Novel of the Civil War by Margaret McMullan

Google Earth and GIS Resources have a website to help readers of How I Found the Strong find Smith County, Mississippi where the novel takes place, Civil War battles mentioned in the book, and much more. Check it out!

It is the spring of 1861 and the serenity of Smith County, Mississippi has been shattered by Abraham Lincoln’s declaration of war on the South. Young and old are taking up arms and marching off to war. But not ten year-old Frank Russell. Although he is eager to enlist in the Confederate army, he is not allowed. He is too young, too skinny, too weak. After all he’s just “Shanks,” the baby of the Russell family.

War has a way of taking things away from a person, mercilessly. And this war takes from Frank a mighty sum. It’s nabbed his Pa and older brother. It’s stolen his grandfather, his grandmother. It has robbed Frank of a simpler way of life, food, his boyhood. And gone are his idealistic dreams of heroic battles and hard fought victories. Now all that replaces those images are questions: Will I ever see my father and brother again? Why are we fighting this war? Are we fighting for the wrong reasons? Will things ever be the same around here?

Awards

  • Booklist’s Top Ten First Novels for Youth
  • Indiana Best Young Adult Book of 2005
  • Winner 2005 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for Fiction
  • Winner 2006 Mississippi Library Association Special Award
  • 2006-2007 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
  • Chosen one of two books to represent Indiana on the American Library Association’s “Many Voices, One Nation” booklist
  • 2005 Capital Choice Award Nominee
  • 2005-06 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Nominee, Vermont
  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, 2007
  • Unanimously voted a “Great Book” by the state of Maryland Book Consortium, 2004
  • Evansville, Indiana’s One Book/One Community Youth selection 2004
  • Selected Indiana’s featured book for the 2007 National Book Festival, Washington, D.C.
  • A 2006 New York Public Library Book Pick for the Teen Age
  • A Young Adult Selection for dozens of all-school and Community Read Programs

 

Praise for How I Found The Strong

McMullan probes some dark corners often unexamined in children's Civil War books.

– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

…one of the best of the many recent books about young people in the South caught up in the bloody conflict around them…the characters are drawn with quiet truth.

– Booklist

McMullan sketches [her] characters memorably and tempers the drama with wry humor...A sobering view of the Civil War and a heartening look at a boy's coming of age.

– Publishers Weekly

Unforgettable.

– Kirkus Reviews

This book really made me feel that I was in the Civil War era and pulled me into the story. I would recommend this book to anyone searching for something really good to read!

– Dominick Anton, YeahWrite: The Children's Literature Review

Grade 8, Citrus Heights, CA

I recommend this terrific book for any reader with a taste for adventure, action, romance and drama.

– Carl Erickson, YeahWrite: The Children's Literature Review

Grade 9, Houston, TX

McMullan probes some dark corners often unexamined in children's Civil War books.

– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This first novel is one of the best of the many recent books about young people in the South caught up in the bloody conflict around them.

– Booklist

McMullan sketches [her] characters memorably and tempers the drama with wry humor...A sobering view of the Civil War and a heartening look at a boy's coming of age.

– Publishers Weekly

McMullan's first work for children is exquisitely written, its elegant prose fully up to portraying both the pastoral beauty of Mississippi and the horrors of war.

– Kirkus Reviews