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“Problem with hiring me?” I repeated, hoping I didn’t sound as shaky as I felt.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Mrs. Grant responded. “In order for you to be employed and paid by the library, we must enter your information in our system. The same is true for Chloe. When we entered your information Woody, we noticed you owed $1.14 in overdue book fees.”
“Oh, no! It must have been when I kept those Inspector Gadget books too long. Mrs. Grant, if I pay the fee today, can I still get the job?”
“Absolutely,” Mrs. Grant responded.
I dug in my pocket and found 42 cents, a spinning top, a rock and a piece of jerky. Seeing my dilemma, Chloe rummaged through her Hello Kitty purse and found four quarters and a nickel. We counted out $1.14, and Chloe put the remainder in her purse.
“Woody, it looks like you’re employed with the library! So, what have you pups learned about the history and the causes of the Civil War?”
“We learned the war began in April of 1861 and ended in 1865,” Chloe informed our boss. “We learned the Civil War wasn’t fought between countries but between states in the United States, though we don’t know why.”
“I can’t imagine why our own states would fight,” I added. “They must have been fighting over which state could claim the dogwood tree as their state tree or something else important.”
Mrs. Grant chuckled. “Many think the Civil War was caused by one issue, but that’s incorrect.” Mrs. Grant looked at her watch and continued. “Before you leave, spend some time researching why the states were fighting — and remember, it wasn’t just one reason.”
After Mrs. Grant left, I searched through a book for causes of the war while Chloe searched the Internet. “I wondered if the United States was split in half. Were 25 states fighting against 25 states, or were they divided differently?”
After digging, I read there were 34 states when the war began and 36 states when the war ended. I relayed that information to Chloe. “There are 50 states in the United States. What do you think the other states were doing?” I asked.
“I guess we’ll have to find that out in our research. Look, Woody. This website has all kinds of theories about why the war was fought. It says after the Constitution was written, some states thought the president and the federal government should make laws that applied to all the states. Other states thought they should have the right to make their own laws. Those two differing views caused the groups to argue. As the arguing grew more intense, the United States became divided, and the northern states squared off against the southern states.”
“That’s sad. Didn’t anybody try to stop them? When we sometimes argue, Mom or Dad reminds us that we’re siblings and need to love each other and not argue. Why didn’t the president tell the states that?” I asked my sister, whom I loved, even though we occasionally disagreed.
I noticed Chloe had opened her notebook and was writing down questions. “It seems the more we discover, the more questions we have,” Chloe responded. “I’m making a list of questions so we can keep track of our answers.” I read her list:
1. There were 34 states when the war started. What were the other 16 doing?
2. What exactly were the states fighting about?
3. Who was the president during the Civil War and why didn’t he stop the fighting?
4. What was Kentucky doing? Was it part of the North or part of the South?
“These are just the first set of questions we need answers to,” Chloe informed me. “There’s still lots to learn.”
“I know,” I agreed. “Can you add, ‘How were our drums involved in the Civil War,’ to the list of questions?” I asked.
As soon as Chloe finished writing, Mrs. Grant appeared. “Quittin’ time, pups. See you tomorrow after your breakfast and chores. Oh, and Woody, your mother called and said it was extremely important that you call her before you leave the library.”
My heart sank. I knew she and Dad had decided we couldn’t keep the drums. I figured she was calling me to tell me the news so I could calm down before I returned home. I felt a tear in my eye. I loved those drums. Besides, I hadn’t had the chance to practice. I swallowed hard, picked up the phone and dialed Mom.
Thanks to Kentucky Utilities/LG&E, Kentucky Press Association and the KY Secretary of State for helping to make this statewide literacy project possible. Go to www.kypress.com to hear each chapter and try the chapter activities.