Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Goldtown Adventures #3 & #4

My brand new 7yo has a sweet fascination with chapter books these days.  Often about cute little mice and princesses and other such girly things, but she doesn’t mind a good adventure every now and then.  I love those with a solid Christian worldview, especially if some history tidbits can let me classify them as living history books…. 20140418_172953

And that’s where Susan K. Marlow’s Goldtown Adventures books come in.  We recently had the opportunity to check out books 3 and 4 in the series:  Canyon of Danger and River of Peril.


Canyon of Danger:

Jem Coulter's pa, the sheriff of Goldtown, is away on a trip to deliver a prisoner to Sacramento, and he has left Jem in charge of the ranch-along with Aunt Rose, that is.

No sooner is the sheriff gone then trouble starts-a dead calf, a mysterious stranger, and then Pa's horse, Copper, and his prize rifle are stolen. And Pa's deputies seem unconcerned. Jem and his cousin Nathan find Copper's tracks end at a dark canyon up in the hills.

Jem remembers an old Indian legend Strike-it-rich Sam is fond of retelling about people disappearing and no one ever seeing them again. What is the real story of the canyon of danger? Have thieves found the perfect hideout?

Readers ages 8 to 12 will be entertained by the adventurous spirit and historical lure in this fast-moving series that teaches about life in the post-Gold Rush days of 1860s California. Quick-paced plots and unforgettable characters make these books fun for the whole family.

River of Peril:

Jem Coulter thinks his family is just on a sightseeing trip to the big city of Sacramento. Then armed bandits hold up the stagecoach for the secret stash they're carrying: gold for the Union Army fighting the distant Civil War! Suddenly war isn't so far away; it's right there on the road to Sacramento, with Jem's father, the sheriff of Goldtown, fighting against the rebel army's Knights of the Golden Circle.

When the family finally reaches the city, they think they're safe at last. Setting out to see the sights, Jem, his sister Ellie, and their cousin Nathan make a new friend. But is Henry the pal they think he is? With a father who is a die-hard Confederate, could Henry be in cahoots with the thieves?

River of Peril gives readers ages 8 to 12 the fast-moving, exciting adventure they've come to expect in this series, as well as a glimpse into the history of post--Gold Rush and Civil War life in 1860s California, with stagecoaches, steamboats, stowaways--and lots of gold!

About the Author

The best part about writing historical adventure stories is tramping around the actual sites. I have a gold pan, but it has not seen much action. Panning for gold is a lot of work! I even have trouble panning for gold in the museum troughs, where the staff "salts" the troughs with gold. Nope, I can't seem to find it. I admire the miners who were able to squat for hours and days on end in an icy river far from home. I don't think I have the patience or endurance to imitate those folks.

I do enjoy visiting old gold camps and seeing what life was like for those brave souls. Click this link to see a map of California's Highway 49 sites: Gold Country. If you'd like to see how a gold pan is used, click on this video: Panning for Gold. Looks easy, doesn't it? It is not!

Format:  Paperback, 8.4x5.4 inches, ~160 pages
Age Recommendation: 8 - 12 years old
Publisher: Kregel Publications 
Price:  $7.99 for paperback.  E-book available for $1.99 today! 
To Buy:
For More Information:   

Mom’s Review
I love the adventure!  We’ve been reading as a read-aloud, and every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger, it seems, so Esmé will peek ahead to see what is coming next.  While it is from a boy’s perspective and is “all boy,” there is a little sister in the book who tags along on some adventures.

I also appreciate the wholesome content.  Family is important, church is important, respect for others is important.  Life is not all sunshine and roses – there are criminals and prejudice and saloons and shootings and other such things – but the people are most important.

The icing on the cake for me is the historical content.  We had a lively chat about the Pony Express today – Esmé knew a lot, but there were a lot of holes in her knowledge, and this was the perfect opportunity to fill the gaps.  There are free study guides, and you can even buy lapbooks for these books to make it a complete history unit! 


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Kregel Publications for providing these books for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.


Andi Carter said...

Thanks, Jane, for the lovely review from you and Esme. Glad she enjoyed the books. Wow, 7 years old and reading so well. :-)

I write "girl" historical books too. *smile*

Susan Marlow
my blog is my girl character, "Andi."