Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"He said the war has shown that all citizens in this country–Northern and Southern–are capable of evil deeds. He said we are tied to our humanity by only a slender thread. So we must all strive every day to be more loving and kind."
Virginia Dickens[2]

My Brother's Keeper: Virginia's Diary is the first fictional diary about Virginia Dickens in My America. It was first published in June 2000 and republished in May 2002 with a new cover design. The book was written by Mary Pope Osborne, whom authored two Dear America books.

Virginia Dickens is trapped in Gettysburg when it becomes the center of large battle between the Union and Confederate Armies.


"For Gail Hochman, with the deepest gratitude."

Book description[]

"June 30, 1863
Tonight from our attic window, we can see campfires of the Confederates to the west, and we can see Union campfires twinkling to the south.
Mrs. McCully said we are headed for a big disaster indeed. She said two huge armies so close to each other can only mean a mighty storm is coming. And no one can do a thing to stop it.
During the days leading up to the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Virginia Dickens begins keeping a diary. At first, there is little to report. But all too soon, peaceful Gettysburg becomes the center of the biggest battle of the Civil War. Ginny is trapped there, wondering if her father and brother will make it home.

"Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1863
Virginia's story begins...

In Book One of her diary, Virginia Dickens, known as Ginny, is trapped in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a small town that becomes the center of the biggest battle of the Civil War. She prays for the safety of her family as the battle rages around her.


Historical Note[]

The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 between the northern and southern states. While the north had a "more modern way of life," the south was dependent on plantations that grew sugar, cotton, and tobacco. They used slave labor on these plantations. Desiring to make their own laws, the south left the "union" and formed the Confederate States of America, which caused the Civil War. Two years later, General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate Army into Pennsylvania, knowing a victory in the north would be an "important step." 165,000 soldiers from the Union and Confederate Armies fought a three day battle in the small town of Gettysburg. The Union won the battle, but both sides suffered losses.

Following the battle, the citizens of Gettysburg buried the dead and cared for the wounded. In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the National Soldiers' Cemetery. The speech is now regarded as the "most memorable speech ever made by an American president." The section concludes with the full text of Gettysburg Address. Eight illustrations and photographs are also included.


Main article: List of characters in Virginia's Diaries
  • Virginia "Ginny" Dickens, a nine-year-old staying with neighbors whom witnesses the Battle of Gettysburg. She misses her father and older brother whom are both away at the time of the battle.
  • Jedediah "Jed" Dickens is the older brother of Virginia whom loves writing. When he and his father go away to help his uncle on his farm, Jed gives Virginia his diary to write in.


Main article: Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne is an American children's author best known for creating the Magic Tree House series. She is the author of Standing in the Light and My Secret War in Dear America, and the trilogy about Virginia in My America. In the "About the Author" section, Osborne, about her trip to Gettysburg, said "Cemetery Hill seemed so strangely peaceful. Everything quiet, except for the wind in the grass and the chur of the crickets."

Shared continuity[]

My Brother's Keeper is the first book in a trilogy featuring the character, Virginia. It was followed by After the Rain in 2002, which continues the story a year after the first book. The trilogy was concluded with A Time to Dance in 2003.



  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2001)[4]


"The author would like to thank her editor, Amy Griffin, for her wonderful support. She would also like to thank Diane Garvey Nesin, Jean Feiwel, and the Gettysburg Visitor Center."


  • The portrait on the cover of My Brother's Keeper was illustrated by artist Glenn Harrington.[5]


See also[]

External links[]