By M. C. Arvanitis
214 pages – ages 8+
Published by Agate Beach Press on July 15, 2013
Hank Heaton lives in Buck Creek, Iowa in the 1860s. Sadly, his mother and sister died of cholera and Hank was left with a limp after suffering from the disease. Soon after his mom’s funeral, Pa decides that it’s best for them to head out West. Hank, Pa and Uncle Mac (his mom’s brother) pack up and head to Nebraska in hopes of starting a new life. The trail they follow is full of dangers, like floods, claim jumpers, and rattle snakes. The Oregon Trail is harsh but Hank manages to meet some good friends along he way to his new home.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I also think it’s one of the hardest to write because you have to make the setting, plot and characters accurate and believable and be entertaining all at the same time. Ms. Arvanitis does this very well. I was drawn into the story right away. Hank is a very believable character, especially for the time period in the story. Hank’s dad is very strict but that is balanced with Hank’s jolly Uncle Mac. I really got a good picture of what the Pioneers dealt with on their journey. My only problem with the story is that it ends rather abruptly. I would have liked a bit more, but there is a second book in the works. The adventure and story in the book is enough to keep a kid entertained while learning about the Oregon Trail and life of a Pioneer. This book definitely earns a spot on my book shelf.