Cassie’s Sweet Berry Pie: A Civil War Story

  • Written by Karen B. Winnick
  • Illustrated by Karen B. Winnick
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press, 2005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563979842; hardcover
  • Ages and Grades: 6 - 9; Kindergarten - 4

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A Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, 2006

While at home, keeping an eye on her younger brother and sister, Cassie bakes a real treat—huckleberry pie! When a neighbor passes the word that the Union soldiers are on a raid,Cassie realizes that since her parents are away she needs to be the brave one. When she gets the idea of how she might keep the Union soldiers from invading their home, Cassie proves that huckleberries can be used for more than making pies.

  • Imagine how you would have felt if you lived in the South during the Civil War? How would you have felt if you lived in the North? Choose one viewpoint and write about it.
  • Many of the soldiers were young boys like the soldier Cassie met. Do research about the drummer boys and other young soldiers. Imagine what it would be like if you had to travel so far from home with either the Union or Confederate army. How would you have felt?
  • Why did the South want to secede from the Union? Why did the North want them to stay? List the states on either side of the conflict. What happened to border states like Maryland, Virginia and Missouri?
  • Find out about the important generals who fought in the Civil War—General Lee, General Grant and General Sherman. Choose one and write his biography.
  • Many women had important and active roles during the Civil War. Names like Clara Barton and Harriet Beecher Stowe are well-known; Rose O’Neal Greenhow (a Confederate spy) and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (who received the Congressional Medal of Honor) are lesser known. Make a list of other women and their accomplishments, or choose one women to research and write a report.
  • What are some of the similarities and differences between the Civil War fought in the US and recent civil wars fought in other countries such as Ireland, Bosnia and Rwanda?

Download the School Curriculum Activities for Cassie’s Sweet Berry Pie.

I happened upon the inspiration for CASSIE’S SWEET BERRY PIE: A Civil War Story in an unexpected place—a history text about the Jews of early Mississippi. An anecdote from the book gave me the idea. In real life the heroine was a woman named Caroline Rosenbaum. The history book only briefly mentioned the story of Mrs. Rosenbaum’s trick but the one short paragraph sparked my imagination. I created Cassie, Willie, Saralyn, the huckleberry pie, even Boots, the cat. I like to write about children who use their imagination and ingenuity to overcome difficulties. Particularly, I like to show strong girls in my stories because I’d like my readers to believe in their own abilities. Hopefully, they will be inspired to trust their instincts, follow their beliefs, and rely on their own resourcefulness.

“Winnick’s engaging story is straightforward and easy to follow.”—School Library Journal

“…the plucky heroine and the clever idea will make this glimpse of life during the Civil War of value in the classroom.”—Booklist