Don't forget to read my interview with Amy Timberlake and enter the GIVEWAY for a copy of the book. (I fixed the lack of way to enter from yesterday! -yikes)
Author: Amy Timberlake
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha's blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.
This is a book I will be talking up to my middle schooler - especially those that like historical fiction. But what I will make clear to them that this is a book that goes beyond JUST being historical fiction.
On the surface this book could just be about the huge passenger pigeon nesting in 1871 and a young girl looking for the truth behind her missing sister. And with that it would be a good story. But what makes it a great story is how it goes beyond that. This isn't just a story of Georgie wanting to know if who they think was her sister really was. Instead its about a young girl learning who she is and what her place in this world is. Georgie is a character that under goes a huge amount of change. I teach my students about static vs. dynamic characters. Georgie is the perfect example of a dynamic character. At the start of the book, she's almost a snotty little girl. Not completely but whoa does she have attitude. Now that attitude isn't gone at the end of the book, but the immature component of it is gone! Throughout the course of her drive to find out what happened to her sister she sees the world beyond her own selfish thoughts, wants and emotions. It was so cool to see her change like that!
Georgie, if she were my daughter, would both frustrate me to no end but make me so filled with pride at the same time - especially at the end of the story. What more could I ask for in a character????
Ok beyond Georgie what did I think of the story? The plot was great. It had some good twists and turns that really pulled together nicely. I didn't find they hard to believe. It all seemed plausible. Sometimes in a mystery situation in a book how things come together can seem so far-fetched that I just can't buy it. That wasn't the case here. Although I will admit there were a few things that happened later in the year that didn't seem completely necessary to go into. I understand they were historically accurate, but just sticking to Georgie's story would've been ok with me too. It wasn't a big deal at all because it was a smaller part of the book. It added to Georgie's growth, but I would've been just as happy with the book without it.
Lastly the pigeons - wow! Wow wow wow! I really need to learn more about passenger pigeons now. I was asking people if they had heard anything about this huge nesting that happened in 1841 in Wisconsin, and no one knew! Now I live in Minnesota, so the fact we didn't know was even more amazing. I want to learn more, and I'm thinking about tying it into a lesson for one of the grades I teach. Well done there! I read a good story AND learned some history.
Final Thought: More than just historical fiction
Best stick-with-you-image: The cougar!
Best for readers who: Like history and some mystery
Best for ages: 12+ (maybe 9+ if you know the child because of the story of her sister's death)
For the Guys? You know even though it has a girl main character I think boys could like it. It's not girly at all - Georgie isn't so how could it be?? I'll share it with boys :)