If you want to know what it was really like during the California Gold Rush, this book is a great place to start. It isn’t a textbook telling all the facts, this is the inside story of the gold rush told by one of the miners himself, Thomas Hartley. Thomas tells the story from the day he heard about the discovery of gold in California. All the people around him can talk about is gold, “how much and how to get it and how to spend it once you’ve got it.” Of course, they forget to talk about all the work…and the danger. Thomas’s story includes blisters and rotting teeth, scurvy, dysentery, scheamers, crooks and murderers. A true adventure that just might end in fortune. Author: Tod Olson Illustrator: Scott Allred
Gary Paulsen, the author of this book, calls it “the true and fictional account of the most valiant marshal in the West.” Mr. Paulsen adds a little here and there to fill in the places where history left gaps…but for the most part, this is the story of a real guy – the first African-American U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi – and this was in the 1870s! Bass became a legend, even in his own time. Some outlaws turned themselves in once they heard it was Bass that would be looking for them!
Bass was born to slave parents in the 1830s but escaped to the Indian Territory during the Civil War and lived with the Seminole and Creek Indians. After the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in 1863, Bass returned from the Indian Territory and settled in Arkansas. Because he knew how to speak several tribal languages and knew the land so well, he was hired as a U.S. Marshal. In his lifetime he brought in over 3,000 outlaws. This book is the story of how he went from being a child slave to being one of the most respected lawmen in the West. A really inspiring story and fun to read too. Bass was not boring and thought up all kinds of interesting ways to trap outlaws or trick them into custody. He could fight and he could shoot when he had too, but mostly, he was smart! Truly, one-of- kind! Author: Gary Paulsen
Horace is apprenticed to a photographer and is disappointed to find out that part of his job is tricking people into believing ghosts are appearing in their family photographs. His disappointment turns to fear, however, when the image of a dead girl DOES appear in one of his photos. She’s back, and she’s NOT in a good mood. You might want to read this one in the daytime, yes, that’s it, in the daytime. Or maybe with the lights on. Or how about this advice…read this one when you are not alone. As the author Avi says, this story is about shadows, both visible and invisible, that are always lurking near. Oh, man, deliciously spooky from an all-time favorite storyteller. Author: Avi
If you like Sherlock Holmes, you will be excited by this Canadian author’s exploration of Holmes’s life as a 12-year old. It is 1867 in London. A terrible murder has been committed and an Arab immigrant has been arrested for it. Young Sherlock Holmes, with his odd ways, gets sucked into the mystery and is accused of being an accomplice. He must find the real killer or face the gallows himself. In this tense and well-written mystery, we meet Holmes’s parents and understand the circumstances of racism (Sherlock is half-Jewish) and poverty that led him to be the moody, brilliant detective he became as an adult. We also meet the younger versions of the mysterious Professor Moriarity and even Irene Adler (the only woman Sherlock Holmes ever loved). An attention-grabbing and creative book. Author: Shane Peacock
This 550 page novel has a big surprise once you open it…the fact that many of the pages are pictures! It’s a little bit like reading, and then turning the pages like a little movie, and then reading some more. The pictures are drawn from interesting angles and perspectives and are as much fun as the story. It is not a pictures book, but an illustrated novel, like a comic book or graphic novel.
12 year-old Hugo is an orphan living in a train station in Paris, but he doesn’t live out in the bustle of the station, he lives in the walls! Hugo is an appretice to the clock keeper, who happens to be Hugo’s uncle, but the uncle has disappeared leaving Hugo to tend the clocks. Afraid of being discovered, Hugo continues to do his uncle’s job collecting his uncle’s paychecks, even though he can’t cash them. Hugo scavenges for food and sometimes has to steal. Hugo has a big job just to survive alone, but in his free time, Hugo enjoys working on a project begun by his father. He tinkers with a mechanical man, called an automaton (a robot), trying to get it to work. The small mechanical parts of the automaton are like the parts in the clock…each piece fitting with the next piece to make the machine work correctly. Hugo’s life is like one of these mechanical pieces… he just doesn’t know where his piece fits with the next…until he meets a girl and a crotchety toy shop owner…then the pieces of his life begin to fit together. Author & Illustrator: Brian Selznick