https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51yRrHfKYtL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg This image shows the importance of Jethro (the boy) and how even though he lives on a farm, the war always seems to be in the background of what is going on around him. He is bigger in the picture showing that he is of more importance to the story. The pitchfork and the tall grass give readers and idea of what kind of farming the boy might be doing. The soldiers in the background with the mist around them infer that with the news of the war everything is still unclear.
Hunt, Irene, and Albert John Pucci. Across Five Aprils. Chicago: Follett Pub., 1964. Print.
When looking back at a children’s book as an adult your perspective can open. Every time you reread a book you learn something. In this case I had the opportunity to read a children’s book that, even as an adult, brought me out of my comfort zone. In the book Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, it takes a boy who lives on a farm and has him face tough choices in a world where war could break out at any moment. The story is focused through the eyes of the child and what he thinks of the situation around them.
After meeting and befriending a man with a bad family name, the boy, Jethro Creightons finds himself in a scary situation. Jethro and his family find out that men are trying to hunt them down and destroy their home because they befriended the man that the whole town hates. At this point, the war has taken over his home in Illinois. When a death has stricken the family Jethro gains more responsibility within the family. Since the war creates a dangerous world around the child, he moves to find peace and continue his studies.
In the beginning of the book, the reader’s eyes are opened to what farm life is like. It talks in depth about the imagery of everyday farm life. Miss Creightons is the mother of Jethro. Even in her old age she continues working in the field every day, from dawn to dusk, with her children in order to help provide for the family. She also shows a strong motherly role when she opens her door for strangers and gives them what food she has to offer. She treats friends as if they were her own children and is very wise. It’s also pointed out that at the time of the story illness was very common and lead to a high death rate. Jethro was seen as the favorite child because most of his relatives died of sickness before they reached his current age. With farming every moment of work counts and the faith in God is a strong subject to her. The children are taught to read and write properly by a school teacher with some college experience but for the older generations the only thing they know how to read is the paper and the bible. Mis Creightons makes several references to the bible such as “The Lord God created the earth and all upon it, Jeth. I don’t like to hear that His work waren’t of the best” [Hunt, Across Five Aprils,8].
Through a child’s eyes, curiosity is the biggest part of the world. Jethro is always looking up to those older than him and he also looks up to those he feels are wiser. Throughout the book he mentions that he looks up to his older brothers but at the same time knew his place as the youngest. It is amazing to see through the eyes of a child and one way to do that as an adult is to read children’s books. Through Jethro’s eyes, at only age 9 he could see that the world was troubled. To him, when the talk of war was on everybody’s lips he thinks, “Dread of war was a womanly weakness, he had discovered, evidenced by his mother’s melancholy and the tears of Jenny and his brother’s wife, Nancy” [Hunt, Across Five Aprils,6].
In Hunt’s writing it tells the opinions of multiple points of view. With the constant debate of the war and the wait for President Lincoln’s declaration of war, readers see the thoughts of those who live in the north and the south. It is pointed out by the cousin of Jethro that the south has strong opinions about the north. The southerners think that the north wants to interfere with the way of life in the south by trying to free they slaves and anyone who thinks against that should move up north with the industrialists. While the north believes that slavery is wrong and that it is not only taking away the slave’s bodies but their souls as well. It also slightly infers the President’s hesitancy of going to war which keeps everyone on edge. To me, I feel that this topic is still relevant in our society today. The talk of war always puts people on edge and slavery has always has been an issue.
The people of the small farms have to take a whole day to travel into the next town for the newspaper to stay up to date of the war at hand. She also shows it by having Jethro listen to the gossip and the opinion of the adults around him. This grabbed my attention because now we can just grab our phones, open social media and look for what is happening currently around us. It is so easy to get social media and computers that we don’t have to travel far to get the information. I believe that we often forget how hard it was to get information
Overall, this book was very insightful to a child’s point of view and what it was like to live on a farm during the civil war. It allows readers to show the true effect of adult’s actions and opinions on young children. I enjoyed how having the stress of the war on everyone’s minds was a topic that anyone care relate to. With all the different aspects of the book as a whole it made the book have more depth and it made the book more interesting. Children are like sponges and they watch the world with open eyes and ears. This book represents a childhood on the farm while the world around it is in distress.