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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: The year is 1895. Stephen Haskins has decided to move his family from Denver to Cripple Creek, Colorado to mine gold. Deborah, Stephen’s wife, had some misgivings about the decision but, she and the family - Mary, 10 years old, and Jacob, 3 years old - pack up a rented buckboard wagon and headed to Cripple Creek. Mary provides the reader with a first-hand account of life in a Colorado mining town. This is the second title in an historical fiction series about life in 19th Century Colorado
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 13
Reading Level: 4.2
Age of Child: Read by a student at Denbigh High School (Newport News, VA) as part of our Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: I liked the adventures and journeys. The characters are working hard mining for gold to have a better life. I don't like that people are dying because they didn't have cabins to live in and they didn't have any money to buy medicine or go to a doctor. I learned that going somewhere else to be rich isn't worth it. I want my little brother to read it. It teaches you about hard work.
Adult Reader Reaction: Ms. Luxa has incorporated local and state historical society collections to craft stories about how Colorado was peopled. The characters are human, the challenges awesome, and their lives and experiences intriguing. I for one hopes Ms. Luxa continues to develop and expand the series.
Pros: Although the story is fictional, the location, characters, and events are based on historic records. Drawn from historical records (complete with photographs), Mary’s stories are very informative, sobering, humorous, delightful to read, and authentic.
Cons: Our student reviewer saw a con as people dying.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This book, like its sister, Denver Days, is a story about Colorado in the Gold Rush days of the 1890s. If you, or someone you know, is looking for a delightful and enjoyable read, this book is a definite “buy”.
Educational Themes: This book sheds light on the Gold Rush in Colorado in the 1890s. The reader is given a first hand look at the challenges, opportunities, dangers, sacrifice, and rewards that were part of everyday life in the boom towns.
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