Do You Know Them?: Families Lost and Found After the Civil War

S. & S./Atheneum. Jan. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665913072.
Gr 1-4–Readers have a chance to learn a little more about American history and the quest for loved ones to reunite in the wake of the American Civil War. Lettie’s fictional story covers how paid advertisements were part of individual and community efforts to reconnect friends and family in the era before telephones. Keller’s poignant portrayal of Lettie’s plight—a young girl who has been separated from all of her kinfolk before slavery was outlawed—becomes a means for comprehending the widespread suffering, loss, and grief post-war and amid all the transitions that followed. Freeman’s moving digital art, rendered in a subdued palette of browns, dark greens, and reds, helps set the story in the past and serves as a perfect contrast to the rainbow of brighter colors that appear as the sun lighting up a church’s stained glass windows during a moment of hope. Educators and parents will appreciate the instructional layers of this work of historical fiction, which centers the roles of hard work, sacrifice, literacy, and community in the tasks of finding family after the historical and intergenerational traumas of American slavery. The author’s note adds useful context and distinguishes between the fictional story and the real advertisements the author found in her research.
VERDICT All libraries serving elementary youth and older will want to add this to the shelves covering the Civil War.

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