Tag Archives: adventure

The Year We Were Famous / Based on the true story of young Clara Estby’s walk across America

The YearWeWereFamousThe Year We Were Famous 
Based on the true story of young Clara Estby’s walk across America
Carole Estby Dagg
Clarion Books, 2011

Based on the true story of 17-year-old Clara Estby, a ‘quiet’ person, who hiked across America in 1896 to raise funds to pay for their farm and, in the spirit of the suffrage movement, show that women were strong and capable.

Desperate to save their farm, her mother, Helga, located a publisher who agreed for her and her daughter to hike from (near) Spokane, Washington to New York, leaving May 1896 to arrive November 30; they arrived December
22.  They were to receive $10,000 and write a manuscript of their accounts. They were to start out with $5 each, the clothes on their back, and a satchel with all their belongings.  If they needed any additional funds, they were to earn it on the trip.

They met with every newspaper and obtained signatures of mayors, governors, and even President-elect William McKinley.  They spoke at hotels, suffrage meetings, and bars to raise needed funds.  They encountered thieves (who they shot at), Indians (who assisted them) and snow blizzards (which nearly froze them). They survived on people letting them into their homes for the night and giving them a meal.  They walked more than eight million steps, each wearing out 4-5 pairs of shoes, but they made it.

Set in this historical context, this coming of age story shares mother-daughter clashes, dreams beyond being a farmer’s wife, and the struggles of a woman becoming independent in the early days of the suffrage movement.  A compelling read, taking readers to a time when today’s modern conveniences and equality of women were yet to exist.

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon 
by Grace Lin
Lee & Low, 2009

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is one of those rich tales, which pulls in the reader and keeps the pages turning.  Through her tale of a young girl free of real-life cultural limitations, author Grace Lin weaves together the quietness of the Chinese culture with some boldness of the American culture.  The story works on many levels, with all the main characters growing from the experience.  I read the book twice and learned just as much the second time.

Though her hard-working family is poor, Minli is happy and enjoys her life.  Her dad tells her stories each evening to entertain her daughter.  But her mother keeps complaining about how little they have.  One day spirited Minli sets off to find the Old Man of the Moon who will tell her how she can change their fortune.  She soon meets up with a dragon and they travel together.  They meet several ‘impossible’ challenges along the way, but each time they keep their heart open and find a way around or through the obstacle.

Ms. Lin sprinkles in numerous mini ‘tales’ to give background and, often, clues about each challenge Minli faces.  Not seen often in children’s books, she inserts how Minli’s disappearance impacts her parents, gently capturing what they are learning and how it supports what Minli is learning.

Brilliantly written.  An engaging story.

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King Aurthur’s Very Great Grandson

King Aurthur’s Very Great Grandson
by Kenneth Kraegel
Candlewick Press, 2012

A whimsical story of a brave, six-year-old Henry who heads out into the world for adventure.  He comes upon a dragon and challenges it with, “BEHOLD, VILE WORM! I, HENRY ALFRED GRUMMORSON, A KNIGHT OF KING AUTHUR’S BLOOD, DO HEREBY CHALLENGE YOU TO A FIGHT TO THE UTTERMOST!”  But when the dragon only blow smoke rings, Henry says, “I have no time for smoke rings!  I want to fight, strength against strength, might against might!”  And he heads off for another monster who will match his challenge.  After facing four fearsome foes, he finds what he was looking for all along…friendship.  Cleverly written, fearsomeness builds upon fearsomeness, and bravery reaches its peak.  A fun adventure that will ignite a child’s dreams and fantasies.

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