In honor of Pioneer Day, a Utah State Holiday celebrating the day the Mormon pioneers finally crested the mountains and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, I’m proud and honored to be reviewing this remarkable debut book by my good friend, C. LaRene Hall.
With help from the Underground Railroad, Martha and her parents escape slavery. Because of her mamma’s poor health, Martha’s heart almost breaks when her papa sends her west with a wagon train of strangers. Along the way, she helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, is accidentally left behind. Upon reaching her destination, Martha wonders if she’ll ever see her mamma and papa again.
Martha’s Freedom Train is a wonderful little story about a slave girl who runs away with her parents in hope of finding a better life. Though her parents don’t make it very far, Martha ends up traveling west with a Mormon wagon train, in the company of an elderly woman Martha calls Grandma Miller.
Though Martha is heartbroken to leave her family behind, she comes to love the people with whom she is traveling, and they come to love her. She learns so much during her journey, like how to make buffalo jerky, prickly pear jelly, and journey cakes. One of the travelers takes on the role of teacher, and Martha has a rare opportunity to learn how to read and write. Grandma Miller even gives Martha her very own copy of the Book of Mormon.
Martha makes it all the way to the Salt Lake Valley with the pioneers, and even spends some time in Southern Utah helping plant crops. She learns more about religion, and discovers that she truly is a child of God, regardless of the color of her skin.
This little chapter book is such a fun, easy story to read. It’s well written, well researched, and the characters are enchanting. Also, the pencil illustrations are way fun. Though it’s perfect for six to twelve-year-old readers, I found it a delightful story and thoroughly enjoyed reading it myself. I’ll keep this one on my personal shelf—and my kids will have to borrow my copy. Or better yet, maybe I’ll get them their own so they’ll leave mine alone.
In case your interested in the life of the author, I interviewed her this morning, asking her questions that I felt would help me see into the deepest recesses of her soul.
Hi Connie! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit with me today. I just have a few questions and then you can get back to writing your next book.
NG: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Today, my new favorite is Ben and Jerry’s Key Lime Pie
CLH: I like a lot of flavors, but don’t eat a lot of ice cream. I love peach sherbet and also chocolate chip shakes. I also like hot fudge sundaes.
NG: Who is your favorite author? (Besides yourself or me.)
CLH: That’s a hard one. I love variety and I read a lot so I don’t always stick with one author. My answer would probably be the author of the book I’m presently reading. Right now that would be Loyalty’s Web by Joyce DiPastena. If the book is good, has no bad scenes or language I usually like it. Something historical is generally my preference.
NG: What is your most favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?
CLH: More than anything in the world I love to travel, but since I don’t always have the time or money I have to say my favorite thing is reading. When I read I can go anywhere I want and it doesn’t cost much. Also I can go places that people only dream about.
NG: If you were an animal, what kind would you be and why?
CLH: I love animals, and like people they are all different. Sometimes I’d love to be a kangaroo so I could hop all over. Other times I think a big cat like a tiger or lion would be great fun. Of course, a giraffe with a long neck so I could see off in the distance would be advantageous. Many days I’d love to soar in the air like an eagle. Wouldn’t it be fun to see the world from way up high every day. I just wouldn’t want to be a spider or any creature like that because people are always killing them.
NG: Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?
CLH: I love the diamond my husband gave me on our wedding day. It’s small and just right for me. I don’t like big or bulky jewelry. Pearls are pretty, but unless they are real small they aren’t for me. Of course, I love seeing fancy rings and necklaces on other people, and on occasion I do wear a little jewelry, just not often.
NG: Name one or two power snacks that keep you going as you write.
CLH: My all time favorite snack is chocolate. I’m not sure if that’s a power snack or not, but it keeps me going. The chocolate can be almost anything; candy, donuts, brownies, or cookies. If it’s chocolate I like it.
Thanks for the visit, and the answers to what makes an author tick.
Now for the fun part! This book is brand new off the printing press and I have a signed copy to give away in a drawing, just in time for Pioneer Day.
Here’s what you do:
1. Pay my good friend C. LaRene Hall a visit at her blog and become a follower, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me you signed up.
2. Leave me a comment telling me why you think it’s important for our children to learn about history—such as slavery, the Underground Railroad, and pioneers.
3. Pass the following link to all your friends through Facebook or Twitter, telling them to check out C. LaRene’s fabulous new book. Link: http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=55282
You have three opportunities to get your name in the drawing, and one week to get it done. On Thursday, July 29th, I’ll use a random generator to draw one lucky winner who will get their very own signed copy of “Martha’s Freedom Train.”
To buy your copies of Martha's Freedom Train, click here.