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Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: Sarah’s Wish by Jim Baumgardner

SarahsWish-BookCoverjpg A fact-paced page-turner that’ll keep you hooked ‘til the end, Sarah’s Wish will delight your 9-15 year-old independent reader. Jim Baumgardner wrote the Sarah stories for his grandchildren and he’s quite the master storyteller. All the elements are here: the earnest heroine (Sarah Smith), her wise-cracking friend (Granny Evans), hair-raising suspense and plenty of action, with some historical realism thrown in for good measure.

In the opening pages of Sarah’s Wish, Sarah Smith is in a wagon accident with her mother and becomes an orphan. Many of us probably don’t realize the number of people killed, crippled or maimed in horse or wagon accidents before the advent of the automobile, but it was a common and heartbreaking tragedy. After the accident, Sarah has a wish: to have a new family. In the meantime, she learns about healing herbs from her guardian, Granny Evans, and continues her mother’s work with the underground railroad, while avoiding menacing slave catchers. She also comes face-to-face with the brutality of slavery. While the book doesn’t gloss over the realities of slavery, it is not what I would describe as particularly graphic. Baumgardner has a talent for painting a picture without giving all the gory details and this could be an enjoyable addition to your history studies, though probably not appropriate for very young children due to the subject matter.

Sarah’s Wish also comes with a code for a free audiobook download that you can burn to audio cds or save to your mp3 player, making it easy to take it on a trip or to listen to over lunch.

I enjoyed Sarah’s Wish and at 126 pages (small type, though), it’s a fairly quick read. I did think that a couple of the characterizations were a little over the top, but not grievously. Sarah is a little too earnest to be believable, especially given her circumstances. She’s quite often guilty of rapid-fire questions and seems to have something wrong with her eyes that causes them to go “wide as saucers.” She reminded me a little of Bonita Granville’s portrayal of Nancy Drew in the 30’s. A little distracting, but not out-and-out annoying and probably only because I’m an adult---a child probably wouldn’t be bothered by this. Granny Evans’ dialect is more than a bit thick and cliched---she uses words like “tarnation." Again, this is minor, I think and entertaining in a benign way.

I downloaded the audiobook with no difficulties. It’s divided into 4 mp3 files, each about an hour long, so would take you 4 cds if you wanted to convert it to audio cd. The sound quality was good and the female reader did a good job of giving each character their own voice and of acting out what is happening. I’d say that getting both the book and audio is an excellent deal for such a low price.

The Sarah books (there are 3) are available from major booksellers, but if you order them directly from the author, not only will you receive an autographed copy, you will also receive a slight discount and FREE shipping. Can’t beat that. Directly from Sarah’s Books in paperback:

  • Sarah’s Wish $9.99
  • Sarah’s Promise $13.50
  • Sarah’s Escape $17.50
  • Wish and Promise are also available as audiobooks on cd.

Be sure to read the free book excerpts!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free autographed copy of Sarah’s Wish and the accompanying download for review purposes. I received no other compensation. To read other reviews of this book, click the banner below:

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