This is a novel, as the title clearly states, however Sheila Solomon Klass includes a bibliography of her sources at the end, showing her extensive resources, and clarifying which facts and characters are real and which are composites or fictionalized. I found out many things about Annie, one of the first being that she changed her name (even before she was in the Wild West show). I also learned that she was the daughter of a practicing Quaker mother, and that due to poverty and other family circumstances, she had to be sent to the Infirmary, which was a repository for orphans and other children whose parents could not care for them. Annie's surprising talent of shooting, and the way she uses it, is covered throughout the book. As one might imagine, it was frowned upon as unladylike in the late 1800's when she lived:
Proper girls did not ever shoot. That was the rule. I thought it was a silly rule. I still think so. Silly because I can't see any reason to stop a person who has talent just because that person is a girl. Ma herself was the one who first named mine. A shooting talent.Who says that boys are the only ones allowed to have talents and use them?
Because big issues such as poverty and cruelness (which is contrasted with kindness) are covered and lend themselves to discussion, and because of the first-person narration, it is an excellent read-aloud book. When I read this scene, I looked over at my daughter and saw her wheels turning, and so we took a moment to discuss it:
I heard the two of them talking softly by the fireside long into the night. I heard that word mortgage, mortgage, mortgage whispered over and over, fearfully. Mortgage is the second worst word in the English language. The first worst word is death.
I would recommend this as a read-aloud for ages eight and up, and as a stand-alone book for ten and up. It's one children's novel that I think that adults would really enjoy on their own as well (which is another reason it's such a strong candidate for a read-aloud).There's one problem with this novel that was published in 1996--it's out of print. However, there are some used copies available at Amazon, and I found it in my public library, where they had several copies. It was such an enjoyable book that I didn't want to let this stop me from recommending it.
This review was written and submitted by Jennifer.
Regular Reviewer (see bio in the sidebar)