The Boy in the Alamo



Book: The Boy in the Alamo

Author: Margaret Cousins

Illustrator: Nicholas Eggenhofer

Publisher: Corona Pub. Co., 2nd edition published in 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0613776387 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0613776380 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0931722264 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0931722268 Paperback

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 12 and up

Rating:  ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Cousins, Margaret.  The Boy in the Alamo (originally published as We Were There at the Battle of the Alamo  in 1958 by Grosset and Dunlap; second edition published in 1983 by Corona Publishing Company, P. O. Drawer 12407, San Antonio, TX  78212).  It is 1836, and twelve, going on thirteen, year old William Harkness Campbell, who is usually called Billy but wants to be known as Will, lives in Nacogdoches, TX, with his seventeen year old brother Buck and their Uncle Todd Hunter, a blacksmith, and Aunt Elvira.  Will and Buck’s Mamma had died of consumption, and their Papa had been killed fighting the Comanches.  Against his uncle’s wishes, Buck decides to go with Colonel Davy Crockett and his men, who are passing through Nacogdoches and stop at Hunter’s Smithy on their way to help the Texian army which was holding the Alamo against General Santa Anna in their fight for independence from Mexico, and in the middle of the night, Will sneaks off to join them also. Of course, we all know what happened at the Alamo.  But what will happen to Will and his brother Buck?

In this book, originally published as #18 of the wonderful “We Were There” series of historical fiction for young people, the classic story of the siege of the Alamo is told in such a way that it will come alive for young readers.  Besides Crockett, other historical characters included in the account are Colonel William B. Travis, Colonel James Bowie, Captain Almaron Dickinson (whose wife Susannah and baby daughter Angelina survived), James Bonham, Lieutenant George C. Kimball, and Lieutenant John W. Smith, as well as General Sam Houston who was not at the Alamo.  Of course, this book is about a battle during a war.  There are references to shooting, killing, and dying.  Small children and especially sensitive readers might not appreciate it, and anyone will probably get a little choked up at a couple of the scenes, but most students will find it an exciting adventure story.  This is the kind of reading that I dearly loved when I was in upper elementary and junior high school.

A couple of references to smoking and chewing tobacco occur, and a couple of incidents in which Will wanted to “say bad words” and heard “bad language that…cannot be repeated” are found, but no actual cursing or profanity is used.  The events and portrayals of famous characters are historically accurate, with some minor necessary liberties taken for the inclusion of a fictional twelve year old boy and his family, so the book gives a lot of good historical information about the battle of the Alamo.  And it doesn’t stop there but goes on to discuss the subsequent battles for the independence of Texas, including Santa Anna’s final defeat at San Jacinto.  Most young boys, and even many girls, will be able to identify with Will and his desires.  And everyone can admire his bravery and determination.  There was a Lt. Robert Campbell, born 1810 from Tennessee, listed among the casualties, but Buck says that he was born in Texas and his birth date would have been 1819.  “Remember the Alamo!”

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