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Author: Burack, Emilie Christie
The protagonist of this historical novel, which is set in the Shetland Islands and also New York City around 1840, is Christian Robertson, a crofter and son of a crofter (small, struggling tenant farmer). When Christian's brother frames him for the theft of a bag of coins, Christian must leave home and embark on a journey to return the coins and clear his name.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 173716
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 17.0 Quiz: 65927
Kirkus Reviews (03/01/15)
School Library Journal (02/01/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2015 Gr 4–7—Christopher Robertson and his family live on the Shetland Islands during the 1800s, where they eke out a living as fishermen for the wealthy man who owns their house and patch of land. They are constantly under threat of eviction and starvation, with little hope for a better life. Christopher's older brother steals their abusive father's stash of coins and deserts the family. Christopher goes after him, pursued himself by one of his father's cronies, and many adventures ensue. There's smuggling, a beautiful and helpful girl, an arrest and escape from jail, and perhaps hidden treasure. Christopher eventually flees to America and discovers that it has its own dangers. Burack's extensive research shines through in the depiction of the Shetlands and New York, giving this work of fiction a solid sense of historical accuracy. The book begins almost at the end of the story, but as the narrative circle nears completion, ample room is left for a sequel. The story showcases the author's talent for description and pacing; however, the use of period British terms tends to interrupt the flow at times, though a glossary is included at the back, along with some historical information and a bibliography. The cover art belies the age and reading level of the target audience. VERDICT The challenging language may make it difficult for some students to invest in this title, but those who do will be well rewarded.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2015 In the mid-nineteenth century, Christopher Robertson grows up on the damp, desperate, and nearly barren Shetland Islands, crammed into a tumbledown croft house with his family as they scrape by on their widower father’s meager earnings. When his brother John steals their father’s hoarded coins, blames Christopher, and bolts for the harbor, Christopher chases after him, only to be caught amid a smuggling operation. While in prison, however, he discovers clues to the whereabouts of an infamous buried treasure, which takes him all the way to New York City. Debut author Burack infuses this gritty tale with plenty of historical detail about both the Shetland Islands and life as an immigrant in Boss Tweed’s New York. From traditional Shetland shoes and the importance of those famously short ponies to the unfair labor practices that contribute to Christopher’s Dickensian experiences, Burack’s careful research into Shetland history clearly shines through. An author’s note and glossary are very helpful additions. Though the conclusion is a bit abrupt, this unique historical adventure is illuminating. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.