Tuesday, March 21, 2017
by Dan Gemeinhart
12-year-old Joseph has lost almost all of his family. His mother and little sister died of typhoid. His father was mortally injured by a wagon that flipped over on him when they were going down a hill. All Joseph has left are memories and a horse. And then Mr. Grissom sells the horse.
Joseph loves that horse so much that he takes off after her - following a no-good horse trader through the wilderness of the Wenatchee Valley where he encounters a hostile grizzly bear and a not completely hostile group of Native Americans. He befriends a Chinese boy who speaks "not a lick of English" through the entire story. He helps a family of settlers and runs afoul of a horse thief and highwayman. His happy ending seems sure ... and then tragedy strikes.
Read this story for the historical context (Washington State in the 1890's, just after statehood), for the adventure (grizzly bears! horse racing! gunfights! river running!) for the wonderful character of Joseph, or for the beautiful descriptions of loving relationships between good people.
Or better yet, listen to the audiobook, nimbly read by Andrew Eiden, who sinks deeply into the dialect of the characters and almost gets the pronunciation of "Yakima" entirely right.
Highly recommended for ages 10 to adult. No sex, no romance, some blood, some alcohol, some minor cussing.
The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern
Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS