Bonanza Girl

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By Patricia Beatty

Ann Katie is excited when she hears that her family is moving East. Her mother, Katherine Scott, packs them up and moves her two children out to the wild Idaho Territories. Her hope is to find a better life, teaching school for the children of the miners in the gold fields. However, things quickly change when the family arrives in Eagle City. The town has hardly any wooden homes, most of the people live in tents, prices are high, and the food consists of beans, beans, and more beans. Worst of all the town is full of rough gold miners, who if they have families they are nowhere to be found.

On the way the Scotts meet Miss Helga Storkersen, who forces her way into the family, taking on their difficulties as her own. With her help, the Scotts open a restaurant in Eagle City, and things start to look brighter for the Scotts and Helga. However, an unintentionally made enemy still looms in the background of their lives, and it would seem that their troubles are far from over.

Bonanza Girl is based on the discovery of gold in the Idaho territories, in 1883, followed by the discovery of silver a couple of years later. I appreciate the way that Bonanza Girl gave a different perspective on the rough gold mining towns in the Idaho Territory, through the eyes of a young girl and her family. It was a very enjoyable book.

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Dragon’s Gate

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By Laurence Yep

All his life Otter has lived in the shadow of is Uncles dreams and just like his father would follow him to the end. However, the time is coming when Otter will realize that his uncle is not the amazing man he is thought to be and that life in America is very different from all that he thought.

In the year 1867, Otter leaves the Middle Kingdom bound for America. His hope is to help his father and uncle in their great work. However, California is much different that he expected. The mountains are cold, rough and covered with thick snow. They work in ground, tunneling to make a path for the Americans trains. The Chinese people are treated poorly and paid less than the American workers. Otter astonished by his father and uncles demoted position finds himself questioning their leadership and decisions on their small team or workers. Can he still bring hope and a future to the people in the Middle Kingdom?

Dragons Gate tells the story of a young boy who after having his dreams and beliefs mislead and crushed, struggles to hold on to the hope of a better future for his people.

The Shakespeare Stealer

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By Gary Blackwood

All that Widge has ever known is the orphanage where he grew up and the home of the odd doctor to whom he was apprenticed. It was during his apprenticeship that Widge was trained to write in a coded shorthand. It is because of his ability he finds himself is the hands of a new cruel master, with orders to steal a “Hamlet” from Shakespeare’s troupe at the Globe Theater.

However, things do not go as planned and before he knows it, he is tangled in the life of the theater. As Widge falls deeper and deeper into the life of the stage, he grows to realize what it means to enjoy life and have friends. The actors at the Globe have welcomed him in and made him one of them. Widge finds himself torn between the fear of not obeying his master and friends that he has at the theater and the family that he has found.

This book is a fantastic piece of work, filled with drama, emotion, and action. It captures the time of the theater and the life of an actor.

Escape Into the Night

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By Lois Walfrid Johnson

Libby Norsted has gone to live with her father on his steamboat. For Libby, life on the river is very different than the luxurious and unhindered life that she led in Chicago. It does not take long for Libby to realize that something is up on the Christina. Caleb, her father’s cabin boy, has a secret. She soon makes the terrifying discovery that he and her father are working in the underground railroad.

As she learns more about the slaves and the way they are being treated, Libby begins to question everything she ever knew about slavery. As she gets more involved with her father’s mission, she realizes how wrong slavery is. However, does she have the courage to face the dangers, challenges, and consequences of being a freedom seeker?

Out of all of Lois Johnson’s books, this one is one of my favorites. Escape into the Night is the first book in a six book series, that follow the journey of Libby and her friends in their fight for freedom. I love how Lois Johnson has tied a Christian message into this suspense filled story. Her books are both thrilling, thought-provoking, and a great read.

I Am David

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By Anne Holm

I Am David tells the story of a young boy who escapes from a concentration camp in Eastern Europe. David is alone and terrified of pursuit. All he knows is that there might be safety for him in Denmark. Travelling across the land, David begins to learn about the world beyond the concentration camp and the God who cares for him.

Life is dangerous for David, he meets friends and enemies, sleeps on the open ground and eats the food of the land. Always working his way toward Denmark. He hopes that there might be a family there for him. Will David find the home he longs for? Will he learn what it means to believe in the God of green pastures and still waters? Will he escape capture and reach Denmark?

David’s story is full of adventure and danger. He is full of questions and I love the way he faces each challenge as it comes.

 

Johnny Tremain

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By Ester Forbes

Johnny is a silversmith’s apprentice. He loves his trade and works it incredibly well. He knows that his work is promising and bosses around the other apprentices. However, all within a couple moments, Johnny’s world is shattered, by a terrible accident that cripples his right hand.

Alone, unable to work, with his future lying ahead in broken pieces, Johnny faces the world outside the silversmiths. Boston is a pot of water coming to a boil, ready to bubble over. The cry for liberty is going up and the people are coming together. Something is going to happen. Johnny finds himself with a new dream and a new desire. Will he find his place and stand his ground in the fight for freedom?

I loved Johnny Tremain. The story is tactfully written. Forbes does a good job of expressing Johnny’s pain and frustration and the colonists strong desire for Liberty. This book gives you a taste of Boston in the year 1773. What it may have been like to be there on the ships and participate in the Boston Tea Party. To listen to those great men of the war and feel the desire for freedom run through your veins. I highly recommend this book!!!