Sunday, May 22, 2016

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

It's October 1890 in Mission, Washington and the only loved one Joseph has left is his pony, Sarah, until she is unrightfully sold.  This is Joseph's story.  His story of a survival quest to get her back by foot, over roaring rapids, through forests and conquering so much more.

By his side from almost the get go, is Joseph's new friend, a Chinese boy who speaks no English, Ah-Kee.  When they first meet, Joseph and Ah-Kee, in their native tongues, share their stories and how they've got to where they are on that day.  Joseph says, "I sure enough didn't know a word of what he was telling me, but I reckon it had to do with the same kind of stuff stuck inside me:  family, and things that were lost, and having no place to call home." (p. 34).  This is the story of Joseph finding those things that were lost and his search for a new place to call home.

A grizzly mama, a drunk, a new baby, a roaring river, an outlaw and more.  This is a story where your heart will beat faster and faster and you will never be able to predict what comes next. In the fall when my students are critiquing Newbery 2017 contenders and finding prominent themes, they will have many to choose from in this book:  courage, perseverance, friendship, adventure, love, and, of course, family...Joseph is fighting for his family through and through.  "I do have a family, sir," he tells the outlaw, Caleb Fawney. "They're just all dead.  But they're my family just the same..."(p.195)

Mr. Davidson, one of the many Joseph meets along the way, got it straight when he told Joseph, "It's your heart.  It don't beat right.  Hearts always go like this: ba-pum, ba-pum.  But with yours I can only hear the pums, not the bas's.  You are missing half your heart..." (p. 158)  I'm telling you, when you read this book make sure you have set aside enough time to read it in one sitting and don't be alarmed if you only hear the pums until the end.  I'm almost positive I was missing half my heart while I was following Joseph on his journey.

I cried. I smiled. I even giggled.  But most of all, I rooted.  I rooted for Joseph (and Ah-Kee) to find his Sarah, his home and his family and guaranteed, you will, too.

This was 10:00 am--Notice I had just begun.
The rest of my day was shot because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! What a great review! So perfectly said, even the caption about your day being shot because you couldn't put it down - mine too! I'm so glad that we both randomly picked up and read it on the same day, in two completely different parts of the country, so that I could have a friend to share my experience with right away! Go Joseph! Go Sarah! Go Dan!!! And everybody else: Go get this book!