Teaching history to a child, even a teenager, can be difficult if they donít have a love for history and learning. Teaching history through a good story has the reader absorbing all this education while following adventurous youths. This is what I found when I read Krista Russellís Chasing the Nightbird.
This is an interesting story of a young boy who finds himself alone after his father dies. As he starts off on the only life he knew as a sailor he is kidnapped by a brother he never knew existed. Finding out that he has missed his chance of sailing on the Nightbird, he spends the next few days and weeks trying to find a way to escape and chase after the Nightbird. He is forced to work in a factory where he has to learn to control his mouth and his patience.
Through the hard times of learning how to live on the land, Lucky finds unusual friends in a runaway slave and a young Quaker girl. Good things come from unexpected places.
What I loved about this book was watching a young teenager finds himself, finds love in unexpected people, and a life full of possibilities if he can only get by those with revenge, murder, and kidnapping on their minds. Kids, especially boys, like to read of sailors, fights, secrets, and sneaking around in the dark with others on their tail. This is the perfect book for it.
It is not a long book at less than 200 pages. I was able to read it in one day, but I am a fast reader. An average kid could have this read easily in a few days because they wonít want to put it down.
What history do they learn in this fiction story? They will learn about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, abolitionists, runaway slaves, slave ships, whaling ships, the textile industry, the Underground Railroad, and the Quakers. That is a lot to learn in an adventure story in less than 200 pages. Ms. Russell did an excellent job weaving in history with fiction. That is not always easily done. She has done it with style.
What do you not get in this book? You wonít find a picture book. You wonít find meaningless scenes or dialogue just to fill in space or detract from the storyline. A great book all over for a teen to read and learn of American history.
Note: The book was received by the publisher upon my request.