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Civil War Leads History Hunters on an Adventure

Photo Credit: Amazon Website

"The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody" by Matthew Landis starts out slow, with a Civil War buff and a girl that seems to be an oddity, being partnered together on an assignment about a private in the Civil War that no one knew. Soon after, the "boring" research unveils some interesting letters about Private Raymond Stone's love life, and life in the infirmary because of infection. Oliver "Civil War Buff" and Ella trace the tracks back to their library, where they dig through file after file in search of information on Private Stone. An hour or so later, they give up at the library and ask around. They are delighted to find that a historical center about an hour’s drive away has Civil War records containing information on the soldiers. However, things get complicated when Ella and Oliver start to fall for each other. Before you know it, they are hanging out more and more.

Things come to a head, and it looks as though the information on Stone will not be available to them until after the presentation day. So, they meet up at Oliver's house, and Oliver finds a new friend in the form of a video game addict that he sits with at lunch. Oliver's new friend, Kevin, helps Oliver find signs that Oliver's crush on Ella is not a one-way thing. At Oliver's house, they brainstorm over snacks and decide to make a documentary about Civil War Private Stone. Oliver and Ella act out scenes, like when Private Stone dies, and Kevin checks the script. Now, I can't tell you whether this new idea is a success, or a great, heaping pile of failure. However, I can tell you that relationships come to a head, and a nervous two friends watch as their last, and biggest project of the year is graded by their peers.
This is a great book about 2 preteens that come together in a necessary, but unusual alliance to pursue the excitements of the past. This book would be great for kids aged 11-15. Some kids under age 11 will not have much knowledge of the Civil War or will have a hard time keeping track of all the characters, settings, and small details in the book. Most kids over age 15 will probably have "aged out" of this type of book and be more interested in books about the war itself, or the logic behind the war, not a story about 2 kids doing a report on the war. Even so, "The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody" can be, and is, interesting for people of all ages.