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The Fighting Ground
illus. by Ellen Thompson
HarperCollins, 2009
more historical
The Fighting Ground

April 3, 1778. America is caught up in the Revolutionary War. On this warm spring morning, not far from Trenton, New Jersey, a 13-year-old boy and his father are quietly tilling the sod on their farm. But the boy can think of only one thing: He wants to fight. He knows how to use a gun-why won't his father let him go?

Unexpectedly, the quiet is cut by the sound of a bell-an alarm ringing from the nearby tavern. Jonathan is sent to find out what the trouble is. What he finds in the next twenty-four hours, when he does fight and is taken prisoner by three Hessian soldiers, changes his understanding of war and life forever. The real war, he discovers, is being fought within himself.

This swiftly paced adventure story of a battle-within-a-battle is told by Avi in stark detail, with vivid historical settings and breathtaking action.

Behind the Book

Avi writes: I was living in New Jersey, and was coming home from a meeting with an editor. During that meeting I was told that the manuscript I had just submitted was being turned down, rejected. As I rode the bus home from that meeting I kept thinking about what might I write next.

As it happens, New Jersey has many road-side historical markers alerting passers-by that such and such a thing happened a long time ago. Many of the markers pertained to our War of Independence. One such marker we passed caught my attention. It told of a small skirmish between revolutionaries and mercenary Hessian soldiers. The marker said, “Only a few were killed.”

I thought about that word “few,” and realized that while it might have been “few” and not of great consequence to the big struggle, for those few people involved it was of great, great consequence. So it was that I came to write The Fighting Ground. It’s about a small event in a huge war, which becomes a huge moment in a young boy’s life.

Awards and Honors:

Scott O'Dell Award, Best Historical Fiction, 1984
ALA Notable, 1984
ALA Best Books for YA, 1984
Bologna, International Book Fair, White Raven, 1984
Notable Children's Trade Books in Social Studies, 1984
Jefferson Cup Award Honor Book, Virginia Library Assoc, 1985
Book of the Month, 1984 PCRRT
ALA Best Books Hi-Lo, 1984


School Library Journal:

“The years is 1778, and 13-year-old Jonathan longs to go off to fight the British … a vivid telling in a brief and intensely personal moment of history in which a young boy grows up much too fast.”

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