Badge of Honor is the first book in a new series written by Susan K. Marlow. In this 140 page chapter book, an adventure from the end of the Gold Rush days unfolds. Written for ages 8-12, this book features a 12 year old boy named Jem, and his younger sister, Ellie. Jem would love to fill his pockets with gold nuggets, but panning for gold can be slow, un-prosperous work. When relatives from back East arrive, on the same day Jem’s father is made sheriff of Goldtown, Jem’s life is turned upside down. Helping his cousin adjust to life in the West, as well as trying to keep his sister out of trouble, Jem discovers the creek bed has dried up. He quickly forms a plan to find out why.
“Just one more chapter! Please!!” This was the cry I heard every night while reading Badge of Honor out loud to my children. My children, (as well as myself) were enthralled with the entire book. We used this book as a read aloud before bedtime for my 11 year old son and 9 year old daughter. My daughter exclaimed “Each chapter leaves us hanging. I don’t want you to stop reading.” After finishing the book out loud, both my children took the book and read it again for themselves.
Susan K. Marlow does a great job of character development. The main character is a 12 year old boy, Jem, his younger sister, Ellie and cousin, Nathan. Filled with action, mystery and even thievery, the characters appealed to my children equally. We had lively discussions about gold mining, head injuries, obedience and being brave when it is needed.
Badge of Honor is Christian fiction. Christian themes are woven throughout the book. Compassion for others, as Jem and Ellie go to help an old friend in trouble, is shown to be important. Jem disobeys his father at times, yet he is gently, but firmly disciplined. Friendship is offered to someone who is very different from themselves.
To go along with the book, Badge of Honor, Susan K. Marlow has a website devoted to the Goldtown Adventures series. At www.goldtownadventures.com, you can find a free enrichment study guide to go along with the reading of the book. The enrichment guide includes discussion questions, vocabulary, geography, history, writing and more. The Goldtown Adventures website also includes a page of fun facts and information on gold and gold mines.
We highly recommend this book. It is a great book to read aloud, but is also an excellent, attention grabbing chapter book to read individually.