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Soldier Song

By Debbie Levy

Illustrated by Gilbert Ford


A non-fiction picture book about how music temporarily united both sides during the Civil War.

80 pages


Disney/Hyperion, 2017





Awards and Recognition


• Society of Illustrators, The Original Art 2017, Exhibition of Children's Book Illustration, Silver Medal

• 3x3 Illustration Annual 2017

• Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017

• selected for the Texas Library Association’s 2018 Topaz list

• Honorable Mention in Huffington Post’s Best Picture Books of 2017

• CBC's Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018


Through insightful narration and vibrant silhouettes and cartooning, Levy (I Dissent) and Ford (The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring) vividly bring to life a chapter in the U.S. Civil War and the integral role music played during the conflict. Levy sets the stage two years into the war, just before the Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg; excerpts from soldiers’ letters are incorporated throughout, giving the account striking immediacy. When opposing troops became entrenched for the winter, music created a temporary connection: “Across the river the melodies floated. Sometimes the soldiers fired tunes back and forth, like musical cannonballs.” Ford depicts this volley with swirling music staffs that rise like orange smoke from the encampments. The motif crescendos at the story’s climax, when one song, “Home, Sweet Home,” unites both sides one winter night. A timeline, bibliographies, and history of the battle, as well as of the poem and song that uplifted homesick soldiers, conclude a bittersweet account of a sharply divided America. Ages 8–10.

_starred review, Publishers Weekly