So, I’d visited the Alamo several times, and even watched a movie about it, but I’d never read a book about it. Then I saw this book at a Goodwill……
Ever since Sarah Ellen Payne married another man, Billy’s brother Buck has been plumb ornery. He figures the only way to distract himself is to go adventuring, maybe do a little fighting. So, when Colonel Crocket turns up at Uncle Todd’s smithy with a contingent of volunteers, Buck doesn’t stop for a thought. He signs himself up and is bound for Bexar.
Well, Billy ain’t gonna be left behind even though Buck got mad as hops when he asked to come. So, after Colonel Crockett and Buck leave, Billy sneaks out too. He has a tough time getting down to Bexar – stage coach rides are only free when you’re smart, and Billy isn’t always that smart – but he manages to straggle into Colonel Crockett’s camp before they arrive at the fort. The men accept him – seem to think he’s a sort of team mascot – and even give him a mount. Whoopee!
It isn’t until they ride into the provisional fort – the Alamo, it’s called – that Billy realizes that fighting there won’t be just a lark. The Alamo is under-stocked both in men and food. But surely General Houston will send them reinforcements! He won’t leave them there alone to be slaughtered…. will he?
The Boy in the Alamo does a great job presenting the emotions and activities of the men in the Alamo. The story is told simply – the great whys behind the battle are not discussed – but there is definite character development. For example, while Billy and Buck had several disagreements early on in the book, this scene (which comes just before the siege of the Alamo) shows the progress of their relationship.
Buck and I walked back to the earthworks together. “If we don’t get a chance to talk any more,” Buck said. “I want to tell you this. You are a man – not a boy.”
“Oh, Buck,” I said, and I felt like crying. “I only wanted to be like you.”
“You’re a better man than I am,” Buck said. “For a minute there, I wanted to cut and run.”
“Me, too,” I said. “But we didn’t!”
“No, we didn’t,” Buck said. “I guess that’s the way Papa felt about the Comanche. You can’t always be sensible. Some things are more important.”
I wanted to tell my brother how much I thought of him, but I didn’t know how. [pg. 113]
When General Houston’s army is preparing to face that of Santa Anna, Houston shouts,
“Trust in God and fear not! Victory is certain! Remember the Alamo! Remember the Alamo!” [pg. 164]
I’ve heard the phrase ‘Remember the Alamo’ all over the place, but it was interesting to read its effect on the men whose friends had died there.
In the last chapter of the book, Billy has the opportunity to take vengeance on several helpless Mexicans, but instead of killing them, he hands them over to his general.
Buck and Billy have a few arguments.
Billy runs away without telling his aunt and uncle. He stows away on a stagecoach, planning to not pay for the ride, but he is discovered and a gentleman pays for his ticket.
Colonel Crockett sees Lupe and mistakes her for his dead daughter. He accuses her of haunting him before he realizes who she is.
A little violence is described during the siege of the Alamo, but there’s nothing graphic.
Lupe and Billy argue and fight a few times, but they are great friends.
Two men smoke cigarettes.
Billy lies once about his age.
‘What in tunket’ is used once as an expression of surprise.
Conclusion. A splendid historical resource, The Boy In the Alamo will whet your student’s appetite for Texas history and reinforce the importance of fighting for freedom.
Review © 2012 Laura Verret