Flame quivered beneath me, ready to fly off the moment I asked.
“The mail’s been stopped one minute and twenty seconds,” Uncle Billy said. “That’s more than long enough.”
He slapped Flame on the rump and the horse leaped forward as if shot from a cannon. The sudden movement caught me off guard and for one horrible second I thought my career as a Pony Express rider was over before it started.
Disguised as a boy, Joselyn becomes Jo and joins the Pony Express.
In the late 1850s in and around Carson City, struggles between the Indians and the local whites are growing. During the struggles, Joselyn, a young orphan, meets Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute girl who becomes her friend and gives her some valuable advice. When Joselyn takes that advice and escapes from the Carson City Home for Unfortunate Children, she has no idea that her boy’s disguise and her love for and expertise with horses will lead her straight to the Pony Express. Joselyn becomes Jo and turns to a life that demands all her inner strength and resources. Then the meanest man on the route learns her secret and uses it to extract a promise that kept or broken could mean death.
Grade 3-6–Joselyn Whyte daydreams about her life as it once was, before her parents died, and before her brothers dumped her in an orphanage on their way to the gold rush. She hatches a plan to escape, passes herself off as a boy named “Joe,” and gets a job as a rider for the Pony Express. The freedom and adventure prove exciting, yet the job is dangerous with Indians and settlers alike threatening the mail runs. A fellow rider discovers Jo’s secret and he blackmails her to help steal money from the mail, but she finds a way to circumvent his plan. After traveling many miles out of her way she becomes lost, but once she gets on the right track, she and her worn horse make it to safety and she is rewarded for her bravery. This fast-paced story features a large typeface with black-and-white line drawings and should appeal to elementary readers, as well as to older reluctant readers.
Alison Grant, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, MI
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.