Booklist Reviews

Gr. 3-6. In this companion to Abby Takes a Stand (2005), from the Scraps of Time series, the Webster cousins find a Civil War medal in their grandmother's attic, and Gee relates a story about Everett Turner, to whom the medal belonged. In 1879, the newly orphaned Turner runs away to St. Louis, where he works in a livery stable, earning money to move west to the all-African American town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Everett treasures his ability to read and write, but his developing skills as a horse trainer earn him a place on the wagon train. McKissack augments her story about the town with details of African American Civil War regiments (where Everett's father earned the aforementioned medal) and the buffalo soldiers. Short chapters, simple sentences, and James' pencil sketches make this an appealing choice for newly independent readers; an appended time line clarifies the actual people and events. Suggest Daniel Chu's Going Home to Nicodemus (1994) to children who want to learn more about the town. ((Reviewed April 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

In this accessible chapter book, Gee tells her grandchildren about her grandfather. In 1879, Everett Turner, thirteen, runs away from farm life and joins the Exodusters--African Americans heading West to begin new lives. Everett learns to handle horses, realizes his dream, and helps his brother fulfill his calling. McKissack ably blends historical detail into the narrative, which is effectively illustrated. Timeline. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

It's 1879 and 13-year-old Everett Turner is stowing away on a supply boat to St. Louis. He has left his farmer brother Gus to work their exhausted land in Tennessee and is heading west to the new settlements in Kansas, hoping to find his way out of the fields of Pearl, Tenn. and into the cavalry with his older brother. Holding his dead father's Medal of Valor as a talisman, Everett joins the wave of pioneers with little more than the clothes he's wearing. Using his wits and his ability to read, Everett earns a spot with Benjamin Singleton's group and starts his new life in Kansas. Important and sometimes neglected historical details are here: Buffalo soldiers, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the slave-built Eads Bridge and the settlement of Nicodemus, Kan. In short, readable chapters, complete with cliffhanger endings, McKissack brings another slice of history to life for new readers. A must for young history buffs. (timeline) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3-4 -The second in the series, this book begins as the Webster children investigate their grandmother's attic. A memento there leads to the story of their ancestor, Everett Turner. Following the Civil War, he was the first of his family to be born into freedom, and the first to be educated. As his story begins, Everett has stowed away on a riverboat headed to St. Louis. He's seen a pamphlet about free land in the West that has him dreaming of his own place. Fortunately, Everett falls in with good people in St. Louis. He learns to work with horses and joins a group of former slaves headed for Nicodemus, KS. The story ends as the group begins the trip to Kansas City. The cover art with a boy on a bucking horse will draw many readers. They'll find a rewarding tale that highlights a lesser-known aspect of America's pioneer story. McKissack deftly weaves in details of the time, including Buffalo soldiers, the role of the church, and the rise of the Klan. This book is just right for beginning chapter book readers who enjoyed Barbara Brenner's Wagon Wheels (HarperCollins, 1978) and are ready for more.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE

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