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‘Rebel in Petticoats’ author to visit battlefield March 17

Nancy Gentry will return to the Chickamauga Battlefield Park Visitor Center this Saturday, March 17 to sign books and talk to readers of her novel, “Rebel In Petticoats.”

Gentry is no stranger to the local battlefield. As a lover of Civil War history she has visited many times and held a similar book signing last March.

When telephoned at her Memphis home last week, she said, “I look forward to my return visit. I love to sell my stories.”

While she and her publisher hope to profit from their publication, Gentry said selling the idea that history can be interesting is more important than her own financial gain.

“Through my personal reading about the Civil War I have found great enjoyment,” she said. “It is a period that is so important, yet children today don’t have much knowledge about that era. This will let them learn.”

Though the story’s central character is a young girl, “Rebel in Petticoats” has universal appeal, according to Gentry, who has taught reading for 31 years.

“I work in an all-boys school and the response here has been very good,” she said. “My target was for fifth-graders through high school; most have read the ‘Harry Potter’ books.

“The biggest surprise to me is that I have more adult fans. They say they enjoy the story and the history.”

Whether bought with their own or a parent or grandparent’s money, books for young adults are one of the fastest-growing segments in the publishing industry, according to Chelsea Kovaleskiy.

Kovaleskiy said that is also true at the LaFayette-Walker County Public Library where she serves as youth education coordinator.

“Our selections are aimed at seventh- through 12th-grade readers,” she said. “Teens don’t want fluff, they want the unique, and we are finding that adults are also reading these books.”

Young readers, including teens, seem to like series — when they find something they like they want more of the same — but what is trendy today may be passé tomorrow. Paranormal romances (“The Twilight Saga”) may be phasing out while dystopian and apocalyptic stories (“The Hunger Games” or “Lord of the Flies”) are ascending, but historical fiction continues to have a steady following.

“What I see are boys fourth- through sixth-grade looking for non-fiction stories,” Kovalesvskiy said. “They want to read books about the the Civil War and World War II.”

For those interested in the Civil War, the librarian said she most often recommends Harold Keith’s 1957, Newberry Medal-winning novel “Rifles for Watie.”

The 150th commemoration of the Civil War seems to have sparked interest among all age groups, according to Gentry, who has a new book about that conflict due for release this summer.

Written for younger readers, the new book is “about two little drummer boys” who participated in the Battle of Chickamauga. Like all her books, Gentry said it is based on facts and that she writes as much to educate as to entertain.

“I have grandparents buying ‘Rebel in Petticoats’ say, ‘I want my grandchildren to understand something about the Civil War,’ but my favorite comments were from a fourth-grader,” she said.

Gentry was referring to a review posted on Amazon.com that ends by saying, “If you love Little House books you will love this book just as much! I couldn’t put it down. ... I had to beg my mom to stay up late so I could read it.”

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