Double Eagle is a delightful, fun and educational (without knowing it is educational, lol) historical fiction book, geared toward young adults. Based loosely on historical facts taken from the Civil War time period, in the location of the Alabama Coast, readers are taken back in time, to April 24th, 1862 when a Confederate ship, called the Skink is attacked by Union forces and sinks. It is believed that gold coins were being carried upon the Skink and have been much sought after, since it's demise.
Fast forward to the summer of 1973 when fourteen-year-old Mike is sent to stay with his dad for summer break. Living the "divorce shuffle", as Mike calls it, is difficult enough and though he loves staying with his Dad, it is an adjustment. That adjustment is being blown out of the water when he finds out that his Dad has taken a summer job teaching, at a new marine lab on Shipwreck Island, bear Mobile Bay.
Not sure what to expect, Mike is naturally nervous and hesitant, until he becomes friends with another boy, Kyle, who is a year older than him and whose Dad also is working at the lab. It doesn't take long for the two of them to forge a close bond, exploring, hanging out and once they learn of the missing treasure of double eagle coins, their treasure hunting excursions.
Sneed Collard III does an excellent job of intertwining fact with fiction, to quickly and easily draw the readers into the story. Double Eagle is the perfect book to engage any age, particularly young adults, girls and boys alike. Another wonderful aspect of Mr. Collard III's writing is his ability to cross generational information. One such instance, that sticks in my mind, is when Mike meets some of the other people at the lab and one was wearing a ZZ Top shirt, but he had no idea who ZZ Top was. I had to chuckle at this. What a perfect way for young adults and adults to be able to relate to the same book and story. Of course this is just one small example, as there are several throughout the story.
Mike, Kyle, Mike's father and all of the characters are brought to life effortlessly, complete with little idiosyncrasies such as Mike's habit of counting his teeth with his tongue when he is nervous or bored. I also loved the way the author brought the past to life, through Mike's thoughts and ponderings. Here is a small excerpt from page 37:
"I used to hold an old coin in my hands and wonder about all the people who had held it since it was minted. A Standing Liberty quarter might have been in the pocket of a soldier at Pearl Harbor. An Indian head penny could have been spent to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show."
I have often done the same thing with material objects, or just looking around at my surroundings, be it a building or outdoor area.
Another aspect of Mr. Collard III's writing, that I greatly enjoyed, was his amazing talent at bringing visual aspects to life with his words. The following excerpt from page 49 is a perfect example of this talent:
"Our heads whipped around to see a tall man with white, wispy hair standing behind us. He wore a faded red fishing cap, and his pale blue eyes peered out from beneath bristling eyebrows. The skin on his face was the texture of ancient brown leather, and an unlit pipe dangled from the corner of his mouth. Despite his age he stood straight as a piling in his long-sleeved button-down shirt and faded blue seaman's pants."
I can't stress enough what a wonderful and delightful book Double Eagle is. It is a story rich with educational lessons and openings to the desire to learn more about the Civil War, coin collecting, and so much more. Do keep in mind that the author is rather sneaky about adding in these educational and historical facts within the story - enabling the reader to learn without even knowing they are doing so! I truly feel that Double Eagle is a story that even the most hesitant and picky of reader will dive into and love. Though Double Eagle is the first work by this author that I have read, I am incredibly anxious to read more!
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About the reviewer
April Schiff Pohren (cafeofdreams)
I'm a mom of 2 very energetic children - an 8 yr. old daughter and 4 yr old son. I am also an avid reader and book blogger. My love of books and writing have allowed to to branch out to help in author/book … more
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