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Sarah's Search for Treasure Review by Lori Hooten

Bertha Schwartz
Ambassador International

Historical fiction can bring to life the ways in which people lived during other eras. Ambassador International has a series of wonderful historical fiction books.  In Bertha Schwartz's tale, Sarah's Search for Treasure, the reader heads back into the gold rush times of 1849.

Sarah's father and brother have decided that they must go to the gold fields to try their hands at the search for gold. This leaves behind Sarah, her mother, and her siblings. With the go-get-em attitude so common in the settlers of the 1800s, Sarah and her mother set their minds to take care of the farm and the animals. All is going well for the first few hours until neighbors start coming by and leaving their animals to be cared for while they also head to the gold fields. Within a day or two, there are 22 cows to be milked, plus chickens, rabbits, pigs, dogs, and cats, all needing cared for.

While it would be very easy for Sarah to just give up, she instead becomes even more determined. She decides that she will care for the animals as best she can. Soon, half-starved miners turn to thievery and the family now must also protect the farm and their animals. A kindly gentleman offers his services and helps Sarah manage things around the farm.

Word soon gets around that Sarah is a good cook and she will trade meals for quality work done around the farm. With dozens of cows to milk and fields to plow, plant, and harvest, it is needed help. She receives just the people she needs to help her and soon the farm is running smoothly. With the men who are helping her around, she and the family are also safer.

But things are not always easy or smooth for Sarah. Between thieves, stolen gold, unanswered questions, and dangerous men who act violently, Sarah is challenged, and her resolve is tested. She must push forward for her family. As she does, amazing things happen around the farm and by the time her father and brother are done on the gold fields, they return home to a surprising result of Sarah's ingenuity, resolve, and friendly guidance.

Sarah's Search for Treasure is a fabulous story. It shows us what life was like for those women and children left behind when men decided to head to the gold fields. They did not have it easy and their lives were often at risk. Bertha Schwartz created characters that draw the reader into their lives and feel a connected part of the story. The reader will worry for Sarah and her family, cheer them on, hope with fingers crossed for things to work out well, and, when the end comes, have a giant smile beaming.

The book also has a series of discussion questions. There are four questions per chapter, without an answer key. The questions encourage you to think about the story in abstract ways and to apply ideas from it to your own life. One of the questions asks about the hospitality, using an example from the story where Sarah, her mother, and Mr. Douglas allow men to have meals and sleep on the property if they work hard to help out. The question asks "Do you think that's fair? Would you offer to work in exchange for hospitality?" There are also questions that have the readers delving into the meaning and application of Bible verses. I Timothy 6:10a discusses money being the root of all evil. The question asks the reader to look at what is going on in the chapter of the story and to discuss how this Bible verse is being seen and what kinds of evil men are doing for money.

Sarah's Search for Treasure is a Christian themed story, particularly if you are using the discussion questions. It is the third in a series titled The Searchers from Ambassador International. While it is the third book in the series, it is a stand-alone book and the books do not need to be read in order. This story of spunky, spirited, focused Sarah will bring a smile to the reader's face as the story carries her through the everyday trials of life.

-Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2019