In July 1863 the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought outside the sleepy Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. In The Last Brother the story of one small boy is told amidst the dramatic events of those early days of July. Though he is only 11 years old, Gabe is a bugler in the Union Army. He takes his responsibility very seriously; after all, there are over 60 different battle calls for buglers to learn. But what is even more important to Gabe is watching over his older brother Davy who, as a foot soldier, is right in the thick of the fighting. Two of Gabe's older brothers have already perished, and he is not willing to lose the only one he has left. During those long days, Gabe meets another young bugler -- one who fights for the other side. Suddenly, what was so definite and clear has become complicated by friendship and compassion. Does one have to choose between service to country, to kin or to a friend? As the cannons fire and the battle rages on, Gabe must do his duty while searching for a way to honor all that he holds dear.
St. Michaels, Maryland, is a town of shipbuilders whose reputation for crafting powerful schooners carries far beyond the shores of young America. And once the War of 1812 starts, that's not necessarily a good thing. For the British have targeted the town as part of their campaign to defeat America in its fight to maintain its independence. And now, in August of 1813 the British fleet is sailing up the Chesapeake River to St. Michaels. The town's militia is assembled but no one expects they can win the fight against the powerful British cannons. Citizens are being evacuated and the town is in turmoil. All young Henry Middle wants to do is find his father amid the chaos of the coming attack. The lanterns he carries will be of use to the militia. As Henry works to conquer his rising fear, he realizes he may hold the answer to outsmarting the British in his very hands.
Philadelphia 1777 is no place for the faint of heart. The rumble of war with the British grows louder each day, and spies for and against the Patriots are everywhere. No one is above suspicion. Still, everyday life must go on and young Maddy Rose must help her mother, especially since her father's death at the Battle of Princeton and now with her beloved brother Jonathan off with Washington's army. But when childhood games become life-and-death actions, Maddy Rose is drawn ever deeper into events that will explode beyond her imagining. As young America stands on the very brink of its fight for freedom, it becomes clear that even the smallest of citizens can play the largest of parts, and that the role of a patriot has nothing to do with age and everything to do with heart.
Janie is not exactly sure why her daddy is riding a bus from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. She knows why she has to go-to stay out of her mother's way, especially with the twins now teething. But Daddy wants to hear a man named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak and, to keep out of trouble, Janie is sent along. Riding the bus with them is a mishmash of people, black and white, young and old. They seem very different from Janie. As the bus travels across cities and farm fields to its historic destination, Janie sees firsthand the injustices that many others are made to endure. She begins to realize that she's not so different from the other riders and that, as young as she is, her actions can affect change.
Gordy and his family live in Detroit, Michigan, the heart of the United States automobile industry. Every night after coming home from work at one of the plants, Gordy's father teaches him how to box. Their hero is the famous American boxer Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit. But the Great Depression has come down hard on the economy. Detroit's auto industry is affected and thousands of people lose their jobs, including Gordy's father. When his mother takes on work with a Jewish tailor, Gordy becomes friends with Ira, the tailor's son, bonding over their shared interest in boxing and Joe Louis. As the boys' friendship grows, Gordy feels protective of Ira, wanting to help the new boy fit in. At the same time, America is gearing up for the rematch between Joe Louis and the German boxer, Max Schmeling. For many Americans this fight is about good versus evil (US against Nazi Germany). Against the backdrop of the 1938 Fight of the Century, a young boy learns what it means to make a stand for a friend.
In the mid-1800s thousands of pioneers crossed the western plains of the United States using the 2,000-mile pathway called the Oregon Trail. Minnow and her family live in one of the many native villages scattered across the plains. She has a lively sense of adventure and her favorite pastime is swimming in the nearby river where she rightly earns her nickname. Rose and her family are traveling in one of the many wagon trains making their way west. It's been a tedious journey with little excitement. Rose can't wait for something thrilling to happen. And one day it does. On the banks of a rushing river that divides one way of life from another, two very different cultures come face-to-face, with life-changing results.
It is 1933 and the Great Depression has ravaged the nation. Millions of people are out of work; thousands of families are struggling to keep a roof overhead and food on the table. But Momma still finds ways to count her blessings (lucky stars) from Ruth's new shoes to Poppa's new job. But where Momma sees the 'bright,' Ruth only sees the dark. Her shoes are hand-me-downs from a neighbor and Poppa's new job keeps him away from home for months. And now their town can't afford to keep the school open. Ruth will not be going to fourth grade even though she's one of the brightest students in her class. How can anyone find the good in that? But when Ruth stops thinking of her own problems and focuses on someone else's, she realizes that being a lucky star is the best way to start seeing your own lucky stars.