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Sarah's Wish


By Jim Baumgardner
Tate Publishing
www.tatepublishing.com

127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
405-376-4900


Sarah's Wish begins one hot, stifling afternoon in 1858. Readers are invited to feel the heat, taste the dust, smell the horseflesh, and hear the laughter of mother and daughter on an afternoon buggy ride. Then, we see the snake . . . and nothing is ever the same again for twelve-year-old Sarah Smith.

When her mother is killed in the buggy accident, young Sarah is devastated. Yet she must get hold of herself and complete the task her mother left undone--a secret task, involving her mother's special "packages." They must be kept safe. Sarah is not sure how she will accomplish this, since she is now an orphan and must live with "Granny," who has agreed to take her in. Along with her concern over her mother's secret, Sarah has a wish--a desire to find a family who will love her as much as her mother and father did before their deaths. When Sarah's secret is revealed, she learns she must trust God and rely on other godly people to help the "packages"--the slaves her mother was protecting. Through it all, Sarah's wish for a family takes her from her small village in Ohio to Kentucky, where she learns an important lesson about what really makes a family.

Sarah's Wish starts off with a bang and moves quickly through fourteen chapters and 123 pages, with action on nearly every page. Historical details are nicely woven into the story. In addition, a glossary of old-fashioned words is provided at the beginning of the book to familiarize readers with some of the language used in the 1800s. Colorful characters abound in Sarah's Wish, like runaway slaves and ruthless slave catchers, gypsies and gallant riverboat captains, as well as the eccentric "Granny," whose dialect and odd way of looking at things are often humorous. Best of all, reliance on God for guidance and a keen sense of right and wrong are carried throughout the story.

Although the main character is Sarah, the story is not told exclusively from Sarah's point of view. Rather, the thoughts and attitudes of many different characters are expressed, which makes the reader feel as though he is watching the story unfold as a bystander. This appears to be the author's intent, but it makes it difficult at times to connect with Sarah emotionally and to fully sympathize with her plight. Another major consideration, which has nothing to do with the story but a lot to do with being able to read the story, is the unusually small font size. The print is smaller than what is found in most adult paperback books. Nine- or ten-year-olds may have some difficulty reading the story on their own.

Sarah's Wish is a nice addition to a unit study on early America. It gives a general overview of the times and feelings of the people of a small, rural community in Ohio--a state which saw many runaway slaves on their way to the north and freedom.



Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2008


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