Monday, October 19, 2009

Sarah's Wish by Jim Baumgardner

"It's awesome! Great! Fantastic!"

This was the response from my ten year old daughter when I asked her how she was enjoying the novel, Sarah's Wish. Author Jim Baumgardner has written the Sarah books for his grandchildren and we're glad he's decided to publish these and share them with others. I wouldn't call my daughter a reluctant reader but she isn't one to express excitement over every book she reads. This one elicits a huge smile and a recommendation whenever she's asked about it. That's enough to elicit a positive review from her mom!

In the opening chapter, twelve year old Sarah becomes an orphan- an orphan with a very important secret. Determining who to trust could be a matter of life and death to the former slaves hiding on her farm. You see, Sarah's family is a stop on the Underground Railroad and her mother died before her "packages" could be delivered to the next stop along the way to freedom in Canada.

Sarah's adventures include facing down slave catchers, trading jokes with "Granny", and wishing desperately for a family to call her own. She is at times mature for her age and at others very much the opposite. A mixture of grace and goof, she is an interesting and sometimes uneven character.

My daughter was already in the middle of the book when I began reading it for myself. Her enthusiasm was contagious and my expectations were high. I struggled at first to find the flow and rhythm of the story. Although the writing seemed somewhat amateurish and the dialogue didn't quite ring true, still I found myself enjoying the story quite a bit. By the time I reached the end I was holding back tears and I realized that despite a few flaws, this is an effective story. The charm that had so easily won over my daughter had more slowly won me over as well.

Sarah's Wish would be a wonderful addition to your study of the Underground Railroad and the evils of slavery. The author includes a glossary of terms in the beginning of the book and so many different bits of history are included in the story, this would be easy to expand into deeper study. You can subscribe to the Sarah's Web Newsletter, which is full of more historical facts and fun. Author Jim Baumgardner (who also publishes the newsletters) has a crazy sense of humor and is a lot of fun.

The first Sarah novel is available from the author for $9.99 with free shipping and handling. He'll even personally autograph it to whomever you'd like! A free audio book download is included with the book, which you can listen to via your computer, iPod or burn to a CD for listening on the go. Instructions for downloading are in the back of the book.

*Disclosure: This book was provided at no cost for review purposes.*

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