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Newbery Medalist Avi brings us mud-caked, tent-filled San Francisco in 1848 with a willful heroine who goes on an unintended — and perilous — adventure to save her brother.
Victoria Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn’t even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship. Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships. Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.
About the Author
Avi is one of the most celebrated authors writing for children today, having received two Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, a Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, a Christopher Award, a Newbery Medal, and two Newbery Honors. He lives in Colorado.
With his characteristically suspenseful style, Avi crafts a rousing historical adventure helmed by a spirited protagonist whom readers will love. Tory’s first-person narration further connects readers to the gold rush–era story, which concludes with room for future exploits. One of Avi’s best.
—Booklist (starred review)
Avi evokes Gold Rush-era San Francisco through Tory's eyes with empathy and clarity while keeping the action lively. A splendidly exciting and accessible historical adventure.
Containing strong feminist themes, this fast-paced tale vividly contrasts the wildness of 19th-century San Francisco with stuffier New England. Tory is a brave yet naive protagonist, who makes a number of mistakes before proving herself a hero, and her dangerous encounters with unscrupulous villains provide nonstop excitement and suspense.
When Victoria Blaisdell’s recently unemployed father catches gold fever and intends to head west, it’s Tory’s chance to escape her family’s rigid expectations...Tory still delivers the goods for adventure-hungry historical fiction fans.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Avi once more proves himself a master of historical fiction, effectively using Tori’s search to immerse readers in the city’s sights and sounds. Fully realized supporting characters reflect the mélange of cultures and dreams that brought people to California in search of gold...A first purchase for all middle grade libraries.
—School Library Journal
Readers...will experience a great historical adventure through the streets, ships, and harbors of San Francisco. They'll learn about crimps who kidnap men and children and force them to work on ships. Readers will also fall in love with Tory, whose independence is tested when Jacob goes missing on her watch. She will join forces with her newfound friends to find the brother whom she once wished wasn't always around, but would ultimately risk her life to save.
—School Library Connection
Readers are thrust into a rip-roaring adventure, filled with suspense and danger, and open-ended enough for a sequel.
—The Horn Book