When Sarah's Wish by Jim Baumgardner arrived to be reviewed, I decided to read the book and found myself immediately involved in Sarah's life and dreams.
Emotionally involved, I wanted her to find a family, to help her friends escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad, and to protect her from the evil slave catchers that made her life miserable.
I felt scared with Sarah sometimes and, other times, found myself laughing aloud at her antics.
When I finished the book, I wanted to read more about Sarah, to stay involved in her life. I felt like I had made a new friend.
Born and raised on right on the Ole Chisholm Trail in Wichita, Kansas, Jim demonstrates his love of history in his books and his life! He volunteers at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. He also visits schools and homeschool groups to teach about the Underground Railroad, cowboys, trail drives, early Wichita history, and writing.
Sarah, our heroine, is a spunky girl living in Ohio in 1858, who loses her mom in an unexpected buggy accident. She fulfills her promise to her dying mother to "deliver the package" to the next station. The "package" refers to a slave couple and the "station" is the next stop on the Underground Railroad. As an orphan, she if forced to rely on God and His people to help her with her grown-up responsibilities as a "conductor." Having lost her father previously, her mother's death makes her an orphan with one wish: to be adopted by a loving family.
Sarah's world is filled with wonderful people, the kind doctor, the loving family that takes her in, and Granny. Granny is quite a character. You never know what she will do and say! She even holds her own in a run-in with a slave catcher. Sarah's dearest friends are Christians who are faced with a spiritual dilema, forced to choose between the government's law and the higher law of God. They make the right choice to help slaves escape to freedom.
Set in the time period just before the Civil War, it is a great book to add to your history unit study or class when you study the 1850's. Historical fiction is marvelous for bringing history alive by introducing the culture, historical events, inventions, and personalities of the time period to your child through a story. If you have not discovered this marvelous method of teaching history, may I entreat you to add historical fiction to your history class. You will see your children's mind and heart open up to history like never before. In fact, you may create a history buff.
I like the setting that was chosen for the time period. Often we study about the states "back east," rather than the cowboys and pioneers of the Midwest. I like this perspective on history, combining the two segments of history, often separated in history books.
Interested in learning more about Sarah and her escapades? Check out all of her books on her website, Sarah's Web. You can also subscribe to her newsletter at Sarah's Web and learn more about the Underground Railroad. My favorite part of the Sarah's Web is the Pictures & Links page, where you can see Grandpa Jim and his girls!
I heartily recommend buying a copy of Sarah's Wish or Sarah's Promise or Sarah's Escape.
Our entire family, along with several families at the church, is studying American History. Sarah's Wish will be part of our schoolwork.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)