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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canyon of Danger & River of Peril

Susan K. Marlow's Goldtown Adventures series consists of four books: Badge of Honor, Tunnel of Gold, Canyon of Danger, and River of Peril. Just the titles alone sound like these books are full of action and adventure, and they do not disappoint. My ten-year-old boy was caught up in these stories quickly and couldn't wait for more.

The books take place in 1860s California in a town called Goldtown, where twelve-year-old Jem lives with his sheriff father, sister Ellie, and his aunt and cousin. The interesting, believable characters drew my son into their lives immediately, and Susan Marlow does and excellent job of making the kids in the story realistic -- they do and say things "real" kids would do and say. Unlike many (many) books for kids in this target age range (middle readers), the adults in the book are just as realistic and serve as good role models and authority figures.

Susan Marlow has obviously done extensive research into the historical background of this series, and I was especially happy to find that free study guides are available on her website ( to accompany these books and extend them into full unit studies for our homeschool.

I read these books aloud to my son. I find them to have a nice flow with chapters just the right length to hold his attention and to fit nicely into our read-aloud time. However, the vocabulary and sentence length are just right for middle readers to read independently as well. In addition, there is just enough suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats and eagerly anticipate the next chapter. 

All in all, I love this series and recommend it fully, especially as a historical fiction series for boys.

Susan Marlow has written a wonderful series of "how-to" write stories on the Home Educating Family Blog. They are a good resource for supplementing your language arts class. See them here!

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of these books in exchange for my honest opinions.}