Monday, April 14, 2014
Susan K. Marlow's Goldtown Adventures
I was able to review books #3 and #4 of the Goldtown Adventures series by Susan K. Marlow. I was familiar with some of her books for girls but had no idea she had books for boys--yahoo! It's really hard to find books for 8-12 year olds that aren't brimming with violence and bad attitudes. I'll share a summary of each book and then some general thoughts about the series.
Canyon of Danger #3
Jem Coulter has the chance at being "the man of the family" while his Pa escorts a prisoner. Jem takes his job seriously with unpredictable results. Their livestock have been troubled by a wolf and Jem is determined to catch the culprit. Unfortunately, he manages to "catch" something other than a wolf which sets into motion a whole cascade of troubles. Will he ever get things turned right? And will he manage to reclaim the family's stolen horse and his father's rifle? I loved the portrayal of Jem and his family. I think both girls and boys will enjoy the sense of danger and uncertainty of not knowing who can be trusted. I really enjoyed the historical flavor; young readers learn about the Pony Express through one of the characters.
Read an excerpt from book 3.
Here's what my 9 year old thought of the book:
"It was a great book. I enjoyed it very much. The book Canyon of Danger is a mystery and an adventure for Jem when his Pa leaves. It was just a great book!"
River of Peril #4
Jem and his family are on an important journey with their Pa traveling by stagecoach. Danger in the form of bandits way lay them and the adventures begin. The bandits make off with a huge, heavy box of gold. But as soon as the bandits are out of sight, the coach takes off with lightning speed before the bandits realize they've been tricked!
When they arrive at their destination (where the gold is to be transported), the ship hasn't arrived and Pa has to make arrangements for securing the gold. Meanwhile Jem and his sister decide to do some exploring--with some dangerous results. While they are getting a tour of the boat from their new friend (the captain's son), they come face to face with the bandits who tried to rob their coach! The bandits manage to capture of of them. How will they make a rescue? How will Pa keep the gold safe and is their new friend's father one of the bad guys? How will they get themselves out of this mess?
Read an excerpt from book 4.
At the end of each book, the author includes historical notes explaining a bit more of the time period. I love how accessible history becomes through these great stories! Marlow creates just enough suspense and feeling of danger without going too far--a very fine balance when writing for this age. The author really creates an authentic feeling for the time and place that helps kids feel like they know just what it was like living in that time period.
One thing that I really appreciate about Marlow is the exceptional resources she has (both free and for sale) to accompany her books. You can check out free study guides, or purchase a lapbook to allow your child to create a lasting souvenir from their reading adventure. Do you have a child who still enjoys a coloring book? The author has graciously provided her illustrations to be printed off for coloring. How many authors do you know who have shared their work in such a way? I remember when my daughter read the Andi Carter series and I printed off the illustrations for her to color--you would have thought it was Christmas! Those illustrations were treasured. I look forward to printing off copies for the three whom I'll be reading these books to (a son and 2 daughters so this isn't just a series for boys).
Even though I had not read books 1 and 2 of the Goldtown Adventures, I had no problem "getting into" the story line and understanding the characters. These books can stand alone but trust me--you'll want them all! They are a nice length for either reading aloud or reading independently.
I wish these books had been available when I was a child; but I'm so thrilled to be able to read these with my kids and hopefully I'll have some grandchildren to relive the adventures with as well! To see Marlow's whole line of books, visit her website.
SPECIAL OFFER: April 15-19 you can purchase adventures #3 and #4 on ebook for only $1.99 each. Don't miss out! More details here.
Disclaimer: I received free copies of Canyon of Danger and River of Peril from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.