Texas Tech University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-896-72624-6.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 10/28/2009
Melodie A. Cuate's third installment of Mr. Barrington's Mysterious Trunk Series, Journey to Gonzales, opens with the disappearance of despondent teenager Nick Taylor. Nick is on a mission and travels through time via the mysterious trunk in Mr. Barrington's attic, hoping to return to the Battle of San Jacinto, where he lost his friend Diego.
Instead, Nick finds himself in Gonzales, Texas, in1835, six months before the battle. He is befriended by Alamo defenders William King, John Gaston, and Galba Fuqua and becomes caught up in the "Come and Take It" event precipitating the Battle of Gonzales. In pursuit of Nick, sister Hannah and her friend, Jackie, are transported by the trunk as well, ending up in the same place and time, but on a different side of the escalation, and eventually with the Alamo de Parras Company of dragoons. Their experience with the Mexicans provides a wonderful differing point of view for the middle school reader.
Journey to Gonzales is peppered with historical facts within the action and dialogue of the story. Cuate is able to make history exciting and interesting for young adults as she brings the historical characters alive with dialogue and interaction with Hannah, Jackie and Nick. History becomes more than words on a page; the reader finds appreciation for patriotism and this period of history in the United States. Included: a timeline, brief bios on the historical characters and English translations for the Spanish phrases used within the story.
Melodie A. Cuate is currently working on Journey to Goliad, Book Four in the Mr. Barrington's Mysterious Trunk series. Besides writing, she conducts teacher workshops with curriculum developed specifically for the series. The recipient of the 2006-2007 Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award and 2008 & 2009 Western Heritage Award Winner for Best Juvenile Book, Cuate lives with her husband, Tony, and daughter, Erica, in McAllen, Texas. Visit her website.
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