Grateful American Kids

Like A River: A Civil War Novel

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Age Range: 9 and up

2015 Winner, The Grateful American Book Prize!

Leander and Polly are two teenage Union soldiers who carry deep, dangerous secrets. Leander is underage when he enlists and Polly follows her father into war disguised as his son. The war proves life changing for both as they survive incredible odds. Leander struggles to be accepted as a man and loses his arm as a consequence.

Polly mourns the death of her father, endures Andersonville Prison, and narrowly escapes the Sultana steamboat disaster. As the lives of these young, brave soldiers intersect, each finds a wealth of courage and learns about the importance of loyalty, family, and love. Like a River is a lyrical atmospheric first novel told in two voices.

Readers will be transported to the homes,waterways, camps, hospitals, and prisons of the Civil–War era. They will also see themselves in the universal themes of dealing with parents, friendships, bullying, failure, and young love. Learn more here!

About the author

I am the third of seven siblings born to a postal worker and a teacher. Growing up in a large family meant I always had someone around to play with (or fight with sometimes). My three brothers and three sisters are still some of my best friends. Postal worker Dad was a do-it-yourself guy, who built and repaired things around our house.

Teacher Mom was also a writer and poet. She was my first writing teacher. I used to play with her flash cards (cards with words for her students to identify), laying them out on the floor into sentences. As a writer I still get to “play with words.” Jim Wiechman has been my husband for “dang near forever.” He is a do-it-yourself guy like my dad.

Jim and I have four children together. Those children are grown now, and we are friends as well as family. We often still take family vacations together, but those vacations are usually filled with unexpected happenings. We like to say, “We don’t take vacations; we go on adventures.”

I taught Creative Writing and Beginner French for several years. I also tutored Language Arts. But I am still a student, attending lots of writers’ workshops. My favorite workshops are offered by the Highlights Foundation. One of the most important things I learned is that there’s always more to learn. And that’s fun for me.

A group of writers I met at one of the Highlights Foundation workshops began a group blog called Swagger Writers. Learn more here:

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