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Book Clubs

For those of you who are in a book club and reading my YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, I’ve put together some discussion questions you are welcome to use. If you’d like a guide for any of my other books, email me at Beverlysmcclure(at)aol(dot)com and I’ll get back to you..

Here is the discussion guide. Use what works for you with your club.


Discussion Guide

About the Book:

Imagine living in a cave, the earth quivering with each cannon shot, dust sifting down, in your hair and your eyes, the walls threatening to collapse and bury you alive.

On Thursday, Mary 21, 1863, a mortar shell rips through the wall of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford’s bedroom. Afraid their home is no longer safe, her mama, Susan, rushes Lizzie and her younger brother, Nathan, to the cave, where she plans to live until the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ends. Lizzie, however, has her own plans: to enlist in the Confederate Army and help drive General Ulysses S. Grant and his Yankees into the Mississippi River. Her older brothers, Joseph and Willie, are in Virginia, fighting for their cause. Can she do any less? But Willie’s death in battle, Joseph’s return home, wounded, bitter, and filled with guilt, and a young Yankee whose life she saves make Lizzie question whether there is a right or wrong side to this Civil War.

About the Author:

Beverly Stowe McClure is the author of four young adult novels and one tween novel. They include Listen to the Ghost, Serets I Have Kept, Rebel in Blue Jeans, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, and Just Breeze. Beverly lives in the country in Texas with her husband, house cat as well as a stray cat that’s adopted her, and a variety of wild critters.

Possible Discussion Questions:

1. How is Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines similar to other novels about the American Civil War?

2. Two of Lizzie’s brothers are fighting in the war. How does this change her family?

3. Why does Lizzie decide to join the army?

4. What does she learn from her decision to be a soldier?

5. In what ways does Lizzie differ from other young girls of her time?

6. What motivates Lizzie to care for Benjamin, the wounded Yankee?

7. Why is taking Vicksburg important to Ulysses S. Grant?

8. How does blockading the city achieve General Grant’s goal?

9. Does Lizzie show courage in the story?

10. Are her brothers, Nat, Willie, and Joseph brave?

11. What is courage in your opinion?

12. How does Lizzie’s mother, Susan, react to the war?

13. Which character is the most likeable? Why? The least likeable? Why?

14. What, if anything, does Lizzie learn from the house servants?

15. Compare the clothing of the era to today’s.

16. How did families keep in touch with their sons so far from home in Lizzie’s day? How do they communicate today?

17. What is it like for the family to live in the cave behind their home?

18. When Vicksburg surrenders, how do the Federal soldiers treat the southerners?

19. If the Confederates had won, how might this have changed the outcome of the war?

20. Compare the type of weapons used during the 1860s to those of today.


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