The long-ago days of the West provide an exciting and fun backdrop for a good story and that's what you'll find in the books reviewed today. Whether you're looking for historical fiction that paints a dramatic, rich picture of pioneer life over 100 years ago or a zany tall tale that will keep kids laughing on every page, you'll find precisely that in the books reviewed today.
So sit down with the child in your life, open up one of these books, and take a ride back to the old West.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Our Only May Amelia" by Jennifer L. Holm, HarperCollins, 251 pages
Read aloud: age 8-9 and older. Read yourself: age 9 and older.
May Amelia Jackson is the youngest of eight children living in the frontier state of Washington in 1899. Living in this remote post is hard, especially because May Amelia's siblings are all older and all boys. In fact, she's the only girl in the entire settlement. May Amelia is full of adventure and she is tired of being the only girl and very tired of being told to behave like a "proper young lady."
May Amelia is sure that things would be better if only there were another girl close by. Life gets more complicated when Grandmother Patience moves in; she's not "patient;" she's nasty, especially to May Amelia.
Written in the first person, this is May Amelia's story. A vivacious, spunky pioneer girl who loves to fish, explore and longs to see the world, her voice and adventures will capture your heart.
Library: Silver City Volunteer Library, Silver City Volunteer Fire Department, High St.
Volunteer Librarian: Quest Lakes
Choices this week: "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift; "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe; "The Odyssey" by Homer
Books to Buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
"Railroad John and the Red Rock Run" by Tony Crunk, illustrated by Michael Austin, Peachtree, 2006, 34 pages, $16.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 4-7. Read yourself: age 7-8.
Lonesome Bob aims to marry Wildcat Annie today in Red Rock. Granny Apple Fritter is traveling with her grandson to see them get hitched and as they board the train, Granny tells Railroad John that the wedding's at 2 o'clock sharp and they can't be one minute late.
Railroad John assures his two new passengers that the Sagebrush Flyer pulls into Red Rock at precisely 1:59 p.m. and that the 40 years he has driven this train, he's never been late once. Little do any of them know the obstacles that are ahead.
Between the vial outlaw Bad Bill that stops the train at Dead Man's Curve, a fierce thunderstorm that washes the bridge and tracks away and a tornado that sucks the train up and up and up, Lonesome Bob and Granny wonder if they'll ever make it to Red Rock.
A knee-slapping tall tale from the west, this hilarious story will have kids laughing and enjoying every moment of this crazy ride.
"The Gold Miner's Daughter: A Melodramatic Fairy Tale" by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrated by Jon Goodell, Peachtree, 2006, 32 pages, $15.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 6 and older. Read yourself: age 7 and older.
Pa and Gracie Pearl were gold miners, but hard times had come upon them. The mine they were working didn't have any gold in it, and "that good-for-nothin' banker, Mr. Bigglebottom," was on his way to collect his money. Worse than that, Mr. Bigglebottom said if they didn't pay-up, he would take Gracie Pearl for his bride in exchange for their debt.
Gracie Pearl wasn't about to let that happen and she sped away to find help and hopefully find some gold. But help was hard to find. The girl with golden locks being chased by three bears couldn't help Gracie Pearl and neither could three pigs, Rapunzel, or several other (familiar) characters. Everyone, it seemed, had debts to repay to the dirty weasel banker. Would Gracie Pearl be able to find the help she needed?
A fun, romping trip of one feisty girl and several fairy tale characters, this selection is sure to please.
• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature and can be e-mailed at email@example.com.