Escape by Night
This generously illustrated early chapter book is set in Augusta, Georgia, in 1863. Young Tommy McKnight feels the effects of the American Civil War firsthand as wagons of wounded soldiers plow through town, headed for the church turned hospital. Tommy and his sister Annie witness a one-armed soldier’s notebook fall to the ground. When they send their dog Sampson to retrieve it, the action ignites an adventure.
The soldier is reserved and speaks only to Tommy, Sampson, and a slave named Henry. The contents of the notebook are also mysterious and troubling to Tommy. He slowly realizes that the wounded man is a Yankee who wants to escape behind Union lines with the abused Henry. And he asks Tommy to help them.
Myers and Bates raise the tight format of a short chapter book to new heights, as not a word or illustration is wasted in this beautifully crafted story. Escape by Night mixes suspense and adventure with real moral dilemmas involving loyalty, love of family, and slavery. Sampson the wonder dog is a great bonus! Highly recommended.