As a child, I was raised on California Gold Rush history; reading Rescue in Poverty Gulch aloud to my grandsons gave me the same thrill. Oswald's fictional story takes place in 1896, Cripple Creek, Colorado, a real place with a fascinating history.
Written for third to fifth graders, young Ruby and her temperamental friend, Maude the donkey, should entertain and amuse both girls and boys. Having lived most of her life on the trail, Ruby is a classic tomboy, smart as a whip; clever and funny, she finds stationary life a heavy burden. To top it all off, she is required to attend school, which does not please Maude at all. The tales of Maude, entwined with Ruby's in this delightful book, remind me of Mary Had a Little Lamb, except young Ruby has a donkey that follows her to school!
Children easily follow the story line, and the humor is right on the level of most kids of this age. Adding Maude was an inspired touch as well, since animal stories usually appeal to young and old alike.
There are some attention-grabbing plot twists to this story, too—the school principal who seems to have an eye out for Ruby's widowed dad, the children of the school who to Ruby's dismay make a pet out of Maude, and the catastrophe of 1896.
An excellent author's note gives some historical background, and makes the story more real to the child reader. A great book to read aloud at home or in the classroom, or to give to a child to read on their own. One of three books Oswald has written as historical fiction for children, it both delights and entertains.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Nancy Oswald is a teacher and writer living with her husband, dogs, cats, cows and goats on a family ranch in Cotopaxi, Colorado. Her current love, is writing Colorado historical fiction. You can find out more about Nancy on her website.
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