Thursday, December 06, 2012

Historical Fiction

The Quilt WalkDallas, Sandra. The Quilt Walk
September 2012, Sleeping Bear Press
Nominated for the Cybils by the publisher and copy received from them.

Emmy's father has decided that his fortune lies in Golden, Colorado in 1864, so he packs up the family and heads out from Illinois with provisions to set up a building supply company. Emmy's mother isn't thrilled to leave her family and friends, and it's hard for Emmy to leave behind her cat, but she embraces the adventure. They join a wagon train that includes young Mrs. Bonner, a newlywed whose husband is abusive, and Joey, a young boy Emmy's age. The days are long and somewhat tedious on the trail, and Emmy's grandmother has sent her with quilt pieces for a log cabin quilt, that she works on while on the trek. Various calamities befall the group, but they make it to Colorado and set up shop there without too many incidents.
Strengths: Having been raised on Little House on the Prarie, I wish more students would read books about this historical era. This might intrigue some students to start.
Weaknesses: Read a little like some later episodes in the LHOTP television show, where Albert started drinking, Ma considers having an affair, or Laura sets up a meth lab in an abandoned sod house. Could have done without the Mrs. Bonner details and had more information about the trail.

The Island HorseHughes, Susan. The Island Horse.
1 March 2012, Kids Can Press
Nominated for the Cybils by Sheila Ruth

Since her mother became ill, Ellie's father has been out of work in order to take care of her. After her death, Ellie is trying to regain some happiness in her life through her friends and thinking about wild horses, but when her father announces that he has gotten a job in a rescue squad and is moving them to a remote island, she feels that all of her chances at happiness have been dashed. Sable Island, off Nova Scotia, was a desolate and treacherous place in the early 1800s, so Ellie is not thrilled that she and her father will be alone at a station fairly far from the small main station. While her father is off at work, Ellie must do her chores and stay close to home, but she does occasionally get visits from Sarah, who lives at the main station, and she sees the wild horses of the island up close. When the annual round up of these horses is about to take place, she takes her father's advice to try to lead her favorite horse, Orchid, away from the men collecting them. Will her efforts be enough to save the horses, and will the island ever feel like home?
Strengths: Students who like Misty of Chincoteague might enjoy a different story about wild horses, and students looking for historical fiction set in Canada will find this an interesting portrait of a specific place.
Weaknesses: The excitement of the horses is a bit overshadowed by Ellie's extreme sadness about her mother's death and moving to the island.

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