Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory

Cannons at Dawn: The Second Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, by Kristiana Gregory, was published in 2011 by Scholastic. It is the sequel to The Winter of Red Snow.

Abigail Jane Stewart returns in this brand-new sequel to The Winter of Red Snow. The Revolutionary War toils on, but the Stewart family can no longer avoid getting involved. Abby’s father joins the Continental Army, while Abby, her mother, and her siblings become camp followers. They face daily hardships alongside the troops and continue to spend time helping the Washingtons. Filled with romance and adventure, Abby’s frontline view of the war captures the heartache and bravery of the soldiers, as well as the steep cost of freedom

Rating: 2/5

Cannons at Dawn is part of the reboot of Dear America, where Scholastic revamped the covers and commissioned several new stories. It’s the sequel to The Winter of Red Snow, and as far as I could tell/remember, it accurately recounts the further adventures of Abigail Jane Stewart as told in the epilogue of the first book.

That’s really the main problem with this book—The Winter of Red Snow, and any Dear America book in general, are ill-suited for sequels since each book has an epilogue that tells what happens to the characters after the events of the book. Cannons at Dawn is a useless book in terms of characterization; since we already know what happens to Abigail and her family, the book gives us nothing new. The only purpose the book serves is to describe more of the Revolutionary War: the betrayal of Benedict Arnold, the French support, the Battle of Yorktown. It’s puzzling as to why Scholastic chose this book to serve as a sequel and why no other book was given one. It also highlights the weaknesses of sequels in a series like this in the first place.

The best part of Dear America is its “day-in-the-life” quality. Extending that in as forced of a way as Cannons at Dawn lessens the impact and makes each book less special—especially the sequel, since there’s nothing special about a story that we already heard at the end of the first book.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense as to my feelings, but basically, I think that for a series such as Dear America, sequels are a bad idea. Needlessly extending one historical event to tell us the continuing story of someone for whom we already know the continuing story makes for a slow, dull book. Not even the historical aspects make Cannons at Dawn appealing to me—not when it goes against the “one and done” aspect of the series in general, as well as makes everything long and drawn-out. Gregory is one of my favorite Dear America authors, but I’m going to pretend this book doesn’t exist in the series.

Recommended Age Range: 8+

Warnings: Abigail becomes pregnant, but the book ends before she delivers the baby. Children’s books don’t usually include things like this, so that’s why I’m stating it as a warning.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

“Were you with the soldiers at Stony Point?” I asked.

His green eyes flashed with pride. “Drummer, first class. From the court of King George.”

We stared at him. It took a moment for us to understand.

“You’re a Redcoat!” Sally cried.

He seemed surprised. “You are loyal to the King, yes?”

“No. Never. We are Patriots!”

You can buy this book here: https://amzn.to/2uBLpTW

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