We just finished reading Sarah’s Wish, the first of three books by Jim Baumgardner. Sarah is a nineteenth century girl who experiences many adventures and heartaches, from losing her mother in an accident to assisting slaves in the underground railroad. The book is action-packed enough to appeal to both boys and girls in the 8-12 year old range. I was interested to learn that the author, Jim Baumgardner volunteers at a living history museum in Kansas and has done extensive reading of slave narratives and research on riverboats in order to make his stories as authentic as possible. That definitely comes through in his writing. The dialect and terminology used effectively draws the reader into the time period. (Baumgardner even very helpfully includes a glossary of terms to help the reader understand some words that are no longer in use.)
As Emily read the book, she remarked several times how about exciting the story was. There was a description of a slave beating that worked well to bring her into the cruelty of the time period, feeling the sadness of the title character.
One very nice feature of the Sarah books is that they include free audio downloads of the story—great for listening to on car trips, or for struggling readers to listen to as they read the actual book. The recording was engaging and well done.
At times, I found the writing just a little bit stilted—evidence that this is the author’s first book, but it was still worth reading. I recommend this series for either recreational reading or as a supplement to a history study of the mid-eighteenth century and the Underground Railroad.
I received this book free for review purposes.