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Homeschool Crew Review: Sarah’s Wish

 

Sarah’s Wish by Jim Baumgardner is the first in a series of historical novels written for the author’s nine grandchildren.  Set just before the Civil War, it tells the story of a spunky young girl who follows her dead mother’s passion for helping runaway slaves.  As the back of the book says, Sarah’s world is full of “secrets and promises, runaways and slave catchers, colourful gypsies and noisy riverboats, and Granny.” 

 

 Granny, who cares for orphaned Sarah, is a feisty old character with a gun in her knitting bag to fend off slave catchers and cheerful compassion in every bone of her body.  She and Doc Baum (based on the author’s great-grandfather) support Sarah in her wish for a new family and also in her determination to uphold the values of her own parents.  This heart warming story of Christians in the rough and tumble of life is action-packed and full of fun. 

 

When the book arrived, I unpacked it and took a quick peek inside.…  After a while I noticed that the two Little Misses were asking me something.  About going to the woods, or something like that.  I have no idea what they were asking or what I answered but I must have said, “Yes,” because the house became very, very quiet … as I slipped into Sarah’s entrancing world.

 

What a perfect mini-vacation!  I trembled with fear while hiding slaves, joked with dear old Granny, travelled down the Ohio River, visited a gorgeous southern ‘farm’, and shared Sarah’s horror at what she found there. 

 

Not only is this a great story with appealing characters, it is also a wonderful introduction to history.  Mr Baumgardner is immersed in history himself (as a museum volunteer and in schools and homeschool groups).  Throughout the story the many fascinating historical tidbits and the amazing dialect (explained in a glossary) transport the reader to another time. 

 

Sarah’s Web shows a young girl in the struggles of life, but it does not present a false picture of a child’s abilities as so many books do.  The adults who care for Sarah, though human, are loving and capable, not foolish, inept, or irrelevant as adults are often portrayed, even in Christian children’s literature.  Thus Mr Baumgardner avoids one of the blind spots of Christian children’s literature.  Throughout the book he upholds high moral values–he’s writing for his grandkids, remember.  Though the story is full of goodness, it is exciting and completely devoid of preachiness. 

 

I gladly handed this book to my three older children (11 and up) and they enjoyed it.   One of them commented, “There’s something wrong with this book.  It’s too short!”  I think we will be buying the second and third books of the series for ourselves. We’ll also buy some more copies of Sarah’s Wish as birthday gifts for friends.  According to the website, Sarah’s Web, the books come autographed when you order them from the author, which is a nice little bonus. 

 

You can read excerpts of Sarah’s Wish as well as of the two sequels, Sarah’s Promise and Sarah’s Escape, on Sarah’s Web. As the excerpts show, there can be a lot of tension and emotion in the stories.  In Sarah’s Wish the tension is often relieved with humour, and I think most children over 11 will not find it too disturbing.  I have not yet read the other two books in the series, but Mr Baumgardner promises ‘spine-tingling excitement’. 

 

 

The fun and history continue in Sarah’s Web Newsletter.  To receive this, send an e-mail to sarahbooks@cox.net  with “send newsletter” in the subject line.  

 

 
 

 

One quibble I have with the writing is that it sometimes seems choppy; scenes change without notice and occasionally I felt lost.  This is not a book to hand to a struggling reader for independent reading.

 

 

 

To see other reviewers’ opinions of Sarah’s Wish, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog

 

Purchasing Information

Sarah’s Wish by Jim Baumgardner, is a 126 page novel for young adults published by Tate Publishing & Enterprises.  The book retails for $10.99US but at Sarah’s Web you can get it for $9.99US, autographed.  The novel also comes with a free downloadable audio version.

 

Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free autographed copy of Sarah’s Wish to review.

2 Comments

  1. LarabaK says:

    Thanks so much for the review.

    Is it pretty grim? Slavery stories really bother me sometimes. I have trouble even reading about Harriet Tubman's life.

    God bless, Laraba

  2. AnnieKate says:

    Hi Laraba,

    It has some pretty stressful moments and there's one tragic slave scene. However, the Christian nature of the book is a real comfort here, because heaven is such a strong reality for the characters.

    I wouldn't let young children read it, but I think you would find it a valuable book to read yourself, partly because of the positive way in which life, death, and faith are portrayed.

    From the excerpts, I think the next two books are more intense, and I won't start them just before bedtime.

    You probably should check out some of the other Crew reviews for more info. http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew/726402/

    Blessings,

    Annie Kate

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