Bad enough that they have to move across the country to get away from Dad’s financial scams, but in this little Virginia town stuck in its Civil War history, their Chinese family does stand out, even though their uncle has lived here a while.
Evan hopes that sixth grade will be okay, but the class bully lives across the street from their tiny rental house. Brady calls Covid-19 “the China virus” and asks if Evan will bring it to Battlefield Elementary School. Evan can sense that he really believes that – yikes!
Luckily, most kids in his class are nice, including Max who’s assigned as Evan’s buddy and explains Battlefield Day, Mrs. Norwood’s favorite activity, where everyone becomes a Civil War character in costume for an outside learning experience.
Each student in class brings in a family heirloom from the Civil War, except Evan, so Mrs. Norwood suggests that he choose a behind-the-scenes role, like scribe (boring). Evan’s sister says there were no Chinese in the American Civil War, but a little research shows that she’s wrong!
So while Brady can portray his noted sharpshooter ancestor, Evan can be a Chinese soldier in the Army of the Potomac – Mrs. Norwood’s final Battlefield Day before retiring should be quite memorable!
Other things in town are rumbling, like discussions on removing the Confederate soldier statue in front of the courthouse and the cute stray dog that Uncle and Evan find (maybe Mom will change her mind about ‘no dogs’!) and someone shooting at Evan’s house!
Evan tells most of the story, with chapters by his sister Celeste and friend Max, even Julia and Brady from his class providing additional viewpoints.
What’s something that’s “always been this way” about your town that you would change?
Book info: The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.