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The Pony Express: A 2000-mile Horse Race Review by Nancy Wagner

Sequoia Ministry
(916) 725-3630

This 29-page study guide, bound with a plastic binder, is filled with many interesting facts about the short-lived pony express. It even includes a biography of some of the riders and a compiled list of all the known pony express riders (official records have never been found).

My 11-year-old son picked up the book and had it read within an hour. He liked it, and so did I. The cover catches your interest immediately with a WANTED ad that was published in San Francisco for riders. No age level was listed, but the youngest rider was 11 years old--an interesting tidbit my son quickly pointed out to me.

One account gives fairly graphic details about the death of one of the riders (after he enlisted in the army during the Civil War) at the hands of enemy guerrilla soldiers in 1863. This may be an issue to some families, depending on the age of the child. This incident, however, took place during a war, and war is not pretty. There are no other such accounts in the book. Sequoia Ministry is a Christian ministry, and there are no problems with the presentation of the facts from that aspect.

While it is an interesting study guide, I feel it is too expensive for 29 pages that did not include a quiz, discussion questions, or anything else to assess comprehension. For some families, lack of these items will not be a problem, and for others it might be a minor problem. There is one problem, however, that is of definite concern. At the end of the book, a biographical sketch tells of a rider who died in 1932, "having lived to become the last surviving Pony Express rider." This definitely does not square with the caption in the front of the book that refers to a man who had been the youngest rider ever for the pony express at the age of 11 and who died in 1955.

Product review by Nancy Wagner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2006