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Back to Gettysburg, to the Turning Point

My son and I went to Gettysburg, and walked the fields of Pickett’s Charge.

I had done this once before, in 1993 when Brad was six and I was researching Gunfire at Gettysburg, one of my Choose Your Own Adventure books. Walking then the long, broad, gentle slope of farmland where 12,000 Confederates made the final failed assault on the Union line that finished the battle on its third awful day, I was thinking about a story. This time I was thinking about us. All of us.

Back then, the divisions between us that could not be reconciled without violence led to a war that cost 70,000 dead and wounded on those three days alone. Now again hatred, violence and division are a rising tide. Tuesday’s elections can turn us on a pivot toward a new birth of freedom, in the phrase Lincoln gave us after the battle. Or they can keep us on the course to cataclysm.

As we came down the long field, we were reversing the path of the terrible charge. Brad got angry as we came down to the great statue of Robert E. Lee, mounted on his horse Traveler at Seminary Ridge where the charge began, and where Lee said “This has all been my fault” to those of his soldiers who survived and straggled back. Brad said of the statue, It’s a monument to white supremacy. It should come down.

I walked along the low wooded ridge, reading stone monuments to the units that were stationed there that afternoon, each marker headed “C.S.A.” When I turned around, Brad was taking photos for an interracial group of Virginians who stood on the steps of Lee’s statue. They had handed my son their cameras. Now a man wearing a rebel uniform, carrying the stars-and-bars battle flag, walked down the path, tracing the terrible retreat.

This is where we are. I wonder which way we will go.

The Revealers sequel opens up kids' struggles to become themselves in a hyper-linked world.

True Shoes cover 6-18-2013

from True Shoes:

When the doors opened, I’d just come through when someone grabbed my elbow. It was Cam; he spun me around and walked me back out. I said, “What are you doing?” — but he kept me going, gripping my elbow hard, until we were around a corner and no one else could see.    
    Cam had on a brown soldier’s t-shirt and desert-camouflage cargo pants. He yanked out his cell and flipped it open.
    He said, “You see this? I got it a few minutes ago.”
    “What?”
    He held his phone up, showing me the screen. His eyes were on fire.

Download True Shoes in schools, a one-page pdf

Download Novel Connections, a multimedia learning resource on cyberbullying and digital citizenship

The Revealers has been the novel most used by U.S. middle schools. It's easy to see why.

REVEALERS front cover

A middle-school novel that deals realistically with bullying in a multi-character story, The Revealers has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects in well over 1,000 middle schools. Here's an excerpt:

“People have really been doing things to him for years?”
    “Oh yeah. It’s always been open season on Elliot.”
    She shook her head. Her face was flushed. “And those two just ran away?”
    “Yeah. When they lost him and he fell, they got scared.”
    “They could have killed him.”
    “Well ... it wasn’t that far to fall.”
    “But he hit his head.”
    “Yeah.” I couldn’t argue with that. When we pulled Elliot out, his eyes were rolling back and he didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know who he was.

Download The Revealers in schools, a one-page pdf

"Picture a troubled teen quietly removing this book from the school library shelves, then sitting down ... and devouring it."*

Prince front cover high res

He pitched forward, and yanked me after him so hard I stumbled into a couple of high school guys, who put their hands out. “Whoa — easy, man,” they said, but I was already getting jerked pastthem, like a bad dog on a leash.
    He didn’t say a word, just kept this grip clamped on my arm as he stomped forward and hauled me along. People were jumping out of the way, everyone turning to look: high school kids, little kids staring with wide eyes, kids my age whispering and giggling, grownups drawing back with faces like masks.
    Tara was gone. Everything was gone. I was stumbling, stunned, seeing the faces in flashes and trying to keep my balance after every angry jerk on my arm. I tried to say something, but nothing came out. I couldn’t make words. I didn’t know any words except “Dad ... please,” and those I couldn’t say.

* from Foreword Reviews

Download “This important story invites honest discussion": Educators on The Prince of Denial

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