Sometime last year I received an email from Capstone Press inquiring about a photograph on my site.
I’d completely forgotten about the whole exchange. Last week, a box appeared on our porch.
You can’t tell that’s my girl standing in for the actual Sarah Gillespie, but there she is, wearing the “olden times” Halloween outfit I made 3 years ago. Can I gloat just a little?
The book is part of a new First-Person Histories series that uses diaries of real kids (approximately ages 10 to 16 or so) to make American history more than endless names and dates. In addition to Sarah Gillespie, there’s Carrie Berry (a Confederate girl), Charlotte Forten (an antebellum free girl), Sallie Hester (a covered wagon girl), Sally Wister (a Colonial Quaker), and William Bircher (a Civil War drummer, and the only boy in the set).
The text is excerpted directly from Sarah’s diary, complete with misspellings, optional capitalization and irregular punctuation. (I fully intend to point this out to Caitlyn: when you are writing for yourself, either to keep a personal record or to get a story down on paper, all the niggling mechanical details of writing can be totally ignored in favor of capturing your thoughts. Fixing mechanics is what editing is for, and sometimes editing doesn’t happen.) Capstone has augmented the diary with photos and explanatory sidebars, making the book a nice historical introduction and helping you to place Sarah’s story in a somewhat broader context.
When I showed Caitlyn the book, she was thrilled to recognize her dress on the cover. Her very own copy of the book now lives on her bookshelf. Since her face isn’t included in the cover art, knowing that it’s her feels ever so slightly like being in on something. I’m not doing a very good job of keeping the secret, am I?