Across Five Aprils Summary

Chapter by Chapter synopsis of action, themes, character development, and other literature elements

Across Five Aprils Decision Chart

Chapter One

In the opening scene we meet nine year old Jethro and his mother, Ellen, planting potatoes in April 1861. Ellen worries about the possibility of an impending war, while Jethro shares his older brother's enthusiasm for a start to the conflict. In this chapter we meet the following additional characters: In the first chapter our activities allow students to do the following: Decision Chart: This story is largely about decisions. Our unit study provides a chart for students to analyze the major decision of that chapter. In chapter one Jethro and his mother discuss the decision that must be faced by Abraham Lincoln to call for war or avoid it.

Chapter Two

The arrival of a cousin from Kentucky is a special treat for Jethro and he enjoys the rare company meal with the large family around the table - at least until talk of war and succession come up. Jethro listens as the conversation becomes harsh and different views in favor of the North and South are explained. It becomes clear that not just the nation, but this family is also divided by the conflict. In this chapter students will:

Chapter Three

The war has started, and Jethro finds it is affecting his home and family. Bill says good-bye to Jethro alone as he leaves to join the Southern army. With his brother's leaving to fight, the work of running the farm falls on young Jethro. Decision Chart: Jethro's favorite brother, Bill, is struggling with the question of what side of the war does he really support. As he agonizes over this decision, readers begin to see the different sides.

Chapter Four

After some Northern victories, the Creighton's get a letter from Tom. Jethro takes the letter to Shad and spends the night with him. The two review the impact of the war on the nation and family as Shad is preparing to leave to join the Northern army. Shad tells Jethro he should continue studying after he leaves. Decision Chart: Matthew Creighton is faced with the decision to allow his youngest daughter Jenny to marry Shad to school teacher. He is against their marraige because of Jenny's young age.

Chapter Five

After his mother suffers a serious headache for lack of coffee, Jethro has the honor of going into town for supplies by himself for the first time. His adventurous day includes being accosted by men in the general store because his brother Bill joined the Southern army, being befriended by the local newspaper editor who gives him a book and buys him dinner, and being attacked by thugs on the way home but saved by Dave Burdow. Readers assess these issues in the chapter activites: Decision Chart: Should Dave Burdown risk helping Jethro when the entire community is against him?

Chapter Six

The anxiety about their problems causes Matt Creighton to have a heart attack. With his father's illness and all his brothers away fighting in the war, Jethro becomes the man in the family and takes over running the farm. At first he and Jenny become closer, but her reticence to share Shad's letter upsets Jethro. Attackers who are angry that Bill has joined the South come at night and burn their barn and destroy their farm. Literary elements and action in this chapter include Decision Chart: Should Jethro accept Jenny's privacy and the fact that her relationship with Shad is different than his?

Chapter Seven

While the community comes to the aid of the Creighton family, the leader of the bandits suffers a public humiliation. Jethro learns that Tom was killed in the Battle of Shiloh. He watches Jenny add the date of his death in the large Bible as he ponders the history of his family, including siblings he never met. With this chapter, readers contemplate:

Chapter Eight

As the last months of 1862 come, the war drags on. The community helps the Creightons as farm life continues and Jethro continues to study the newspaper accounts of the battles. But there are changes in attitudes both at home and away. Readers consider: Decision Chart: Should generals wage an offensive or defensive war? What makes a good general? A popular general?

Chapter Nine

Danger increases for the Creighton's and the community as army deserters flee their units. The problem becomes personal when Jethro discovers Eb is a deserter. Should he turn his sick cousin over to the officials or harbor him at risk to his family? Unsure of who to turn to for advice, Jethro makes a bold decision which leads to a dramatic scene for his family when a letter arrives. Decision Chart: Should Jethro provide shelter for his cousin who is a deserter?

Chapter Ten

The war continues into the spring and summer of the 1863. General Lee becomes a legend in both the South and the North. The battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg fill the papers. The Creighton's get word that Shad was seriously injured at Gettysburg and her father gave Jenny permission to go see him. Shad recovers and he and Jenny marry. Chapter activities include: Decision Chart: In light of Shad's injury and likely death, Matthew reconsiders his refusal to allow Jenny to marry.

Chapter Eleven

In 1864 after a highly contested election, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. As students read of a war that continued to drag on, they consider: The chapter ends with a reunion between John and Bill, who has been captured and is a southern rebel prisoner in a northern camp.

Decision Chart: The general population faced a major decision to relect Abraham Lincoln or the general George McClellan whom Lincoln fired.

Chapter Twelve

The story ends with the end of the war, and the realization that neither the nation or its families will be the same. Jethro grieves the death of the president who worked for peace and offered mercy. He is relieved at the homecoming of Shad and Jenny who want him to return with them to the east coast so he can get an education. Issues raised include Decision Chart: What should Jethro's future look like now?

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Across Five Aprils

Lesson plans for the Civil War novel by Irene Hunt

Across Five Aprils Unit Study Across Five Aprils Unit Study
91 page unit study with chapter by chapter activities
Across Five Aprils Map Across Five Aprils Map
Shows the locale of the battles and events mentioned in the chapters

Across Five Aprils Timeline
A timeline of the battles and events mentioned in each chapter

Across Five Aprils summary
Summary of the action and unit study analysis by chapter
Themes, Symbols, Genre Across Five Aprils Themes
Analysis of the most important literary elements

Across Five Aprils Vocabulary
Vocabulary words and defintions for each chapter

Across Five Aprils Cannon Timeline

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