Thursday, October 22, 2009

TOS Review: Sarah's Wish

I've mentioned before how much my oldest two children like books that come in a series. Honestly, if I had a nickel for every time I had to get on line and look up an author's bibliography to see if he or she had written another book with the same characters .... well, I'd be rich.

My kids also like historical fiction. So do I. Call me nuts, but a pretty big chunk of my interest in history has come from various fictional accounts that whet my appetite just enough to lead me on a bunny trail off into the great wild yonder of the nonfiction section. The kids have inherited this addiction from me. There's just something about connecting with times and places through people that really makes history a living, breathing study of our human condition.

Combine those two hallowed elements, and you've reached the Holy Grail of literature for the Blandings kids: a historical fiction series. The only way it could get any better than this is if you threw in horses (for Jo). Or dragons (for Atticus). Or illustrations (for Logan).

But a historical fiction series--even without horses riding dragon in pictures? Come on. My kids eat this stuff up.

Which is precisely what Jo and Atticus did with my free review copy of Sarah's Wish. Set in the time of the Underground Railroad, Sarah's Wish follows a sweet 12 year-old girl who has recently lost her mother. The beginning of the book starts with high drama (Sarah's mother's passing) and continues in that vein for the entire ride, delighting adventure hounds like Atticus, while still providing the character development that Jo craves.

I found the book readable, entertaining, and fast-paced. I can't say that about many of the titles that pass for juvenile historical fiction, so take that as a high compliment. All of the best elements of historical fiction are here: detailed descriptions of setting, allusions to world events, even careful attention to prevailing attitudes of the day. The author clearly took time in fleshing out the plot, too--while the door was left open for the two sequels that followed, the story can stand alone just as easily. You get the feeling that the author wants to teach children, but he respects them at the same time. There's no pandering going on here!

The best part, of course, is that this is just the beginning. Sarah's adventures continue in other stories. To find out more, check the author's website, subcribe to his newsletter, and take a gander at the many Sarah-related things he's cooking up.

Sarah's Wish retails for $10.99. but is available on the author's website for $9.99.

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