Susan K. Marlow is the author of several series of quality books for kids. Her newest series is the Goldtown Adventures. I reviewed book 3 and 4 in the series- Canyon of Danger and River of Peril.
The books feature young Jem Coulter. The books are set in the Old West, and Jem's father is a sheriff. In Canyon of Danger Jem is left to be the man of the house while his father is transporting a prisoner. Unfortunately things don't go very smoothly for Jem and he is plunged into adventure trying to do everything not to let his father down. In River of Peril Jem and his family are headed to Sacramento when the stagecoach is ambushed. Jem finds out his father has a secret. And Jem, his sister, and his cousin stumble into a smuggling operation.
The stories are interesting and wholesome reads filled with good values and good, clean adventure. I think the stories of Jem will appeal to young boys who have a hard time finding books they find interesting. I know as the mom of a boy that many books seem more geared toward girls, and it is sometimes difficult for boys to find books that appeal to them. Jem and his adventures will interest young boys.
I had the opportunity to ask author Susan K. Marlow some questions about the Goldtown Adventure books:
Q:How did you develop an interest in the Old West time period?
A: I grew up in the ’60s, when TV westerns were a childhood staple: Rawhide, Bonanza, Big Valley, Wagon Train, and Rin-Tin-Tin, to name a few. They left me with a sense of adventure, and I always wanted to live back then (although now after much research, I realize that in many respects “the good old days . . . they were terrible”). I taught U.S. history in our co-op, and the Old West and the Gold Rush were favorite topics of ours.
Q: What has been your favorite thing that you've learned while writing these books?
A: I love exploring the California gold country and the old gold towns and mines. But learning about the Knights of the Golden Circle and riverboats on the Sacramento River was my favorite discovery. When I heard “paddlewheel steam boat,” I always pictured the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and Mark Twain. I never thought about paddle wheelers churning the rivers of the West. It was the catalyst for what I thought would be a very different kind of “gold” story. The best part is that it was drawn from true events. California gold did support the War effort, a fact often overlooked in Civil War history books.
Q: What do you hope kids learn from the adventures of Jem and his friends?
A: I want kids to enjoy an exciting adventure that helps them imagine what life was like during the waning years of the California Gold Rush. More importantly, I want them to realize that God can be an integral, natural part of our lives, not Someone tacked on once a week at church. I think a good number of folks had that realization in the 19th century. I hope we can keep that alive in our children’s hearts in the 21st century.
The greatest things I found about these books as a homeschool mom were the additional resources available. There are free study guides offered on the site (and printed, bound study guides to purchase). And there are lapbooks offered in conjunction with A Journey Through Learning. So there are many ways to use these books- as pleasure reading or as an educational unit study.
I enjoyed these two books from the series and look forward to reading some of Susan's other books from this series and others. Look below for a special deal on the ebook version of these books during the blog tour!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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