Cover image for Numbering all the bones
Numbering all the bones
Publication Information:
Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, c2002.
Physical Description:
170 p.
Reading Level:
670 L Lexile


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It is 1864. The Civil War is coming to an end and Southern slaves in the US are slowly gaining their freedom. But for thirteen-year-old Eulinda, a house slave on a plantation in Kentucky, it is the most difficult time of her life. Her younger brother, falsely accused of stealing, has been sold. Then her older brother Neddy runs away, and Eulinda is left alone in a household headed by a cruel mistress - and a master who will not acknowledge that Eulinda is his daughter. A detailed and accurate historical novel from an award-winning author. Ages 10-14.

Author Notes

Young adult author Ann Rinaldi was born in New York City on August 27, 1934. After high school, she became a secretary in the business world. She got married in 1960 and stopped working, but after having two children she decided to try writing. In 1969, she wrote a weekly column in the Somerset Messenger Gazette and in 1970 she wrote two columns a week for the Trentonian, which eventually led to her writing features and soft new stories. She published her first novel Term Paper in 1979, but was ultimately drawn to writing historical fiction when her son became involved in reenactments while he was in high school. Her first historical fiction novel was Time Enough for Drums. She also writes for the Dear America series. She currently lives in Somerville, New Jersey with her husband.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-In the last year of the Civil War, Eulinda, 13, the daughter of a slave and a slave owner, waits for news of her older brother, who ran away to join the Union Army. Neddy carries with him the ruby ring that he stole after their younger brother, Zeke, was framed for the theft, and punished by being sold away. When Eulinda discovers the Andersonville Prison, where Yankee soldiers die daily from starvation and disease, she knows her brother is somewhere inside the walls. After the war ends, she meets up with Clara Barton, and her destiny becomes entwined with giving the soldiers proper burials and ultimately finding the stolen ring. The author's note and bibliographical references provide evidence of sound research to portray the circumstances surrounding the prison where 13,000 Union soldiers died. While the setting is compelling, the characters themselves never quite draw readers into the emotional elements of the story. With the exception of Eulinda, who was educated in secret, the black characters speak in heavy dialects reminiscent of Gone with the Wind. Also, confusion regarding factual accuracy occurs when Eulinda relates how her mother deliberately infected the slave-owner's cruel wife with cholera by slobbering all over her, an unlikely way for the disease to be transmitted. However, the story may interest readers who want to find out more about the prison that was considered by many to be a death camp on American soil.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Thirteen-year-old Eulinda, a slave (and her master's daughter), takes interest in the nearby Andersonville prison camp when she learns that her brother, an escaped slave who joined the Union army, is being held there. Clara Barton makes a cameo appearance, and despite some underdeveloped characters, this is a fascinating historical novel. Bib. From HORN BOOK Fall 2002, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A lovely story, rendered in spare prose by a major writer of historical fiction, Rinaldi's (Girl in Blue, 2001, etc.) tale takes place in Georgia in 1864. Written in first-person flashback as a plainly told narrative set down at the request of Clara Barton, the main character tells us, it describes 13-year-old Eulinda Kellogg's attempts to make herself "come true." Eulinda, a house slave at a plantation close to the infamous Andersonville prison camp for Union soldiers, is the daughter of the plantation's owner. Though this fact is known to all, including the master's mean-spirited second wife, the owner has never legally acknowledged Eulinda. Her older brother has run away to join the Union forces-and may, in fact, be imprisoned at Andersonville-and a beloved younger one has been sold. A chance meeting with a man who offers her a role in helping to set the horrors of Andersonville to rights-that is, to bury the Union dead honorably and to turn it into a monument-provides Eulinda with the chance to do something important and meaningful with her life. There is much hard work to be done in this effort, and Eulinda encourages other freed blacks to help her clean and rebuild the place; in addition, as an educated young woman, she paints epitaphs so that all the fallen may be properly memorialized. In the process, she comes to meet and become secretary to Clara Barton, renowned in real life by this time as a champion of the rights of freed slaves and of the effort to pay tribute to the soldiers treated horribly at Andersonville. Eulinda is a beautifully realized character. She speaks plainly but always from the heart, and readers will be swept along by the drama and the history. The author provides a fascinating afterword in which she sets the facts and the many real-life characters in the novel in context and includes a bibliography featuring titles about Barton, Andersonville, and the Civil War. (Fiction. 10-14)

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. The fiction seems purposive in this Civil War story. It's the history that's most compelling, told from the viewpoint of Eulinda, 13 years old in 1864, a house slave on a plantation just a mile away from Andersonville Prison in southwest Georgia. Like Paul in Mildred Taylor's The Land (2001), Eulinda is the child of the white master and a black slave. As the Civil War is ending, she goes to the prison in search of her brother, who had run away to join the Yankee army but has chosen to die rather than return to bondage. She witnesses the brutality of the death camp where 13,000 Yankee prisoners perish, and after the war, she helps Clara Barton and others clean up the cemetery and honor the dead. Through her work, Eulinda also frees herself, but the brutal legacy of slavery is always there, in the continuing bigotry toward "niggers" and the wrenching family separation. A haunting theme for discussion is the role of the local people who know nothing, do nothing, about the death camp where they live. --Hazel Rochman