Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Favorite Books: My Brother Sam is Dead

It's been a while since I wrote an installment of this column. In the last one, I wrote about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Today, I want to talk about another book I loved as a child, and one that I still enjoy, My Brother Sam is Dead by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier.

Why this is one of my favorite books.

I've got a few reasons:
1. First of all, the events depicted in the book take place in the same area in which I grew up. One of the places they travel through, Ridgebury, is the section of Ridgefield, CT in which I grew up. It sparked my imagination to think of them traveling right by my house. It didn't matter that our property was a farmer's field back then.

I knew all the landmarks that were mentioned and had been to Putnam Park in Redding, which was the site of General Putnam's winter encampment. It made history come alive. Check out this link to see what some of the book's locations look like today.

2. It's a historical novel about the American Revolution. I love historical novels, especially those relating to the revolution. In addition to this book, I love Johnny Tremain, April Morning, and Silver for General Washington.

One day, I'm going to write a novel for kids set during the American Revolution. I just need to hit on the right idea. Eric & Stig travel back in time to assist? Hmmm.....

3. The final reason that I really love this book is that one of the authors, Christopher Collier, spoke to my class when I was in the second grade. I had received a copy of the book for Christmas, and I brought it to school that day, and he autographed it. Still have it. Cool.

What I didn't know when I first read it.

I didn't know much about the historical events depicted in this book. I knew about the Battle of Ridgefield (small battle, but still cool), and the burning of Danbury, but nothing about what life was like in that area during the revolution. I also didn't know anything about the winter encampment of General Wooster's army, or that the area was a Tory hotbed.

In some ways, this book influenced me when I was writing my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. The village of Calendria in my book is based on a colonial village. My first taste of that in literature was My Brother Sam is Dead.

What are some book that you read when you were young, or are reading today, that have had a big influence on you?


  1. I have not read this book- only a small portion of it with someone I was tutoring. It sounds great- and I especially like that it was written about areas that are nearby. I love to visit places in books, if possible. I definitely want to read this one! I went to the Bent of the River Audubon Society in Southbury and walked on the same path the General Rochambeau took when he walked through the area. I thought that was cool.

    As a child I read all the time. I love to travel around the U.S- which could have come from all the Little House books I read. :)

    1. It really is a fantastic book. The ending's really suspenseful and powerful. It's cool to walk the same paths as figures from history. Just imagine, you're seeing what they saw.