Nothing beats a good western. Especially one my 11-year-old son can enjoy. I was thinking about this the other day. My adventures as a child took me as far west as San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean. Josiah hasn’t been any farther west than Oklahoma. He can only imagine the Rocky Mountains, Mojave Desert, or the Sierra Nevadas from what he has seen on the internet or from his own imagination. Books can take you places. They can allow you to have adventures that never would be possible otherwise.
Recently, we were given Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow from Susan Marlow and Kregel Publications to review. Now I have to say that the timing of the whole thing was just a little gift. We were in the middle of a Cousin Camp Adventure (celebrating the Old West…in particular the Gold Rush). And wouldn’t you know that nary a gold nugget was found? Not much gold here in Missouri. Except the kind you find in a department store.
Badge of Honor is set at the end of the Gold Rush years (which extended from 1849-1864). Goldtown, California has seen its share of gold fever. We find 12-year-old Jeremiah Coulter (known as Jem) and his 8-year-old sister, Ellie along the banks of Cripple Creek panning for gold with their Father’s old mining partner, Strike. Now young Jem is an enterprising young fellow. Unfortunately, sometimes that “can-do” attitude has put him in some sticky situations. His Pa has also just been named sheriff of Goldtown. And to really shake things up his Aunt Rose and citified cousin Nathan have to come to live with the Coulters.
Things really get creepy when Jem discovers that Cripple Creek has dried up and his friend, Strike has disappeared.
Adventure! Gold! Creepy Claim Jumpers! A dog named Nugget! What more can a boy ask for?
Jem is a boy who likes to pan for gold. He and his sister, Ellie, get in trouble for skipping school. They savor the time spent at the creek with their friend, Strike. Jem’s Dad is hired to be the Sherriff. I would be so happy if my Dad were the Sherriff. Jem wasn’t too sure about it at first. Jem was brave when the claim jumpers tied him up. The book had lots of adventure in it. It was an amazing and satisfying book.
Wow. I, too, enjoy “savoring” times with good times with friends. Amazing and Satisfying. High Praise, indeed!
I personally enjoy Historical Fiction. Badge of Honor was a good mix of historical fact and “by the seat of your pants” adventure. Names like No-luck Casey, Strike and Nugget filled the pages. In the back of the book there are some Historical Notes that provide more interesting tidbits. Did you know that a jury in these wild mining towns (whether it be a formal 12 man jury or the whole crowd) could vote on the verdict whether he or she had heard all the evidence or not? How scary is that!
We enjoyed the book as a Read Aloud. It is certainly a book you can give your child to read on their own. It intended for ages 8-12. As I said, we read after our Prospecting Cousin Camp Adventure. I was able to tie in some of things Josiah had participating in during Cousin Camp into a historical setting. I feel like it would be a perfect fit for reading during a Unit Study or History Unit. Here is a wonderful enrichment guide available for free to use with the book. Our summer schedule didn’t allow us to make use of it, but this book is something I can utilize again in this next school year.
Badge of Honor is also written from a Christian perspective. I have a certain 11-year-old in my house (by the name of Josiah) who is beginning to have some of those deep stirrings of independence. Along with independence comes a little more worry. Jem experiences some of the very same things Josiah is dealing with. It made for some great conversation. We were also able to talk about Jem’s work ethic. He was a boy who was not afraid to work hard.
Badge of Honor is available for purchase for $7.00. There is a second book in the Goldtown Adventure Series - Tunnel of Gold is also available. You save a buck or two and buy both for $13.95. The next book in the series is due out November 2013.
Badge of Honor also has a Lapbook! You know how I feel about Lapbooks! They are great “hands-on” learning tools.
You can read a sample chapter here.
While the book obviously will appeal to boys, I think Badge of Honor is one that will appeal to the whole family.
Member the TOS Crew reviewed Badge of Honor as well as Tunnel of Gold. You can check out more reviews at Schoolhousereviewcrew.com.