Critical Reviews: No Girls Allowed

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ngalargeGrade 4-6–During the Civil War, Mary Adams wants to do more than work at the aid society so she sets out for the front lines, where she cleans the wounds of Lynn Rhodes and then conceals the fact that Lynn is female. When the secret is revealed, the teens must reevaluate their roles and determine how best they can help as women in a man’s world. Mention of historical figures and places allows readers to learn facts in an easy-to-read format. A bibliography and historical photographs are included.–Denise Moore, O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD   — School Library Journal


Fighting isn’t a boys club only. Set during the American Civil War, “No Girls Allowed” tells the story of Mary Adams and Lynn Rhodes, two young women who, barred from society from fighting, dare to do their part anyway. Mary goes onto the field as a war nurse, while Lynn puts on the uniform of a soldier, her true gender unbeknownst to her fellow soldiers or her superiors. A fun and historically educational read that will empower many young girls, “No Girls Allowed” is very highly recommended.  – Midwest Book Review

This is book number five in the “Young Heroes of History” series. In 1846, three Irish brothers, Robert, Jonathan, and Sean Adams, left their homes and emigrated to America. Their children and friends are the main characters in the series. There are over ten children of various ages which make it possible to maintain the main character’s ages as similar to the reader’s even though the books are covering almost a ten year period. In Book Four, Nowhere To Turn, Thomas, son of Jonathan, runs from his home, from his family, and even from battle.

In No Girls Allowed, Thomas’s fourteen-year-old sister Mary decides to return with him to the war and serve as a nurse. Their parents had died in Kansas, and their older brother George is missing, so they are living with relatives outside of Philadelphia, PA. Along the way, Mary even gets to meet Clara Barton. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Lynn Rhodes, who lives with her grandmother, father, and twin brother Daniel in Maine, determines after her father is killed in battle to join her brother by dressing herself up as a boy, Larry, and enlisting in the Union army. At the battle of Antietam, Lynn is wounded and Mary becomes her nurse. Will Lynn be able to maintain her disguise, or will she be found out? What will happen to her and all the others?

As to language, in addition to a few common euphemisms, phrases like “O God” and “My Lord” are used as interjections. Also, some of the battle descriptions might be a little intense for overly sensitive children. But the series, aimed at ages ten to fourteen, explores the Civil War from the perspective of young people caught in the conflict, and does a good job looking at what it is like for kids who joined the army in both the North and in the South, how civilians were affected, the role of blacks both slave and free, the medical practices and problems of the times, and of course the major battles such as Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and Sherman’s march to the sea.. Author Alan Kay has also developed award-winning curriculum for teachers with free lesson plans and resource lists for parents and teachers about his novels available at the series website. – Wayne S. Walker, – the Vine Voice

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