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DENVER DAYS (Children of Colorado series)

Author: Sue Luxa

Illustrator: Joyce M. Turley

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Western Reflections Publishing Company, ´┐½2004

Material: paperback

Summary: Ten year old Katie O´┐½Brien and her brother Joe, six years old, are orphans. Their parents died of pneumonia in the winter of 1881. A parental friend arranged to have Katie and Joe sent to Omaha on the Orphan Train in hope that they would be adopted. In Omaha, Katie and Joe were split up. Katie´┐½s journey ended in Denver where she was hired to care for Aunt Clara Brown, a very respected black woman. Katie´┐½s vignetttes of her life in Denver in the 1880s will delight readers, young and old. This is the first title in this historical fiction series about life in Colorado in the 1800s.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 9 to 12

Reading Level: 6.4

Age of Child: Read by two students at Robbinsdale Cooper High School, New Hope, MN. This was part of our Use Your ABCs classroom literacy project.

Young Reader Reaction: student 1: I started reading this book because the girl on the front looked like she was smiling at me. After the first chapter my opinion changed and the book got better. In the end, the book was OK. I'm just happy that there are black people in it and it is sad that they used to be slaves. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be an orphan, this is the book to read. I would read this book to my kids to tell them that no matter how blue the sky gets, the sun will always be shining, even if you don't see it yet.
student 2: I liked this book because it had a girl that only wanted a family. That made me think of all the people out there with no family. I would read this again. I would buy this book because I could read it to my brothers and sisters.

Adult Reader Reaction: This book, and the series of which it is a part, is a fascinating way to cultivate an appreciation for the past. With few exceptions (this being one of them), historic literature tends to be dry and esoteric and therefore has a limited readership.

Pros: This book, and the series in general, sheds light on the past by providing interesting stories that are based on historic accuracy.

Cons: Student 2: I think the book [illustrations] could have been in color.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. Although the story is fiction the location, characters and events are based on historic fact. The author integrated actual photos of the period to add authenticity to the story.

If You Liked This Book, Try: A CABIN IN CRIPPLE CREEK (Children of Colorado Series)   IN THE SHADOW OF THE CATHEDRAL: GROWING UP IN HOLLAND DURING WORLD WAR II   CURIOSITY

Educational Themes: No Critics' Reviews or reader feedback found at bn.com (Barnes & Noble) or borders.com.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 6.5
The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, adventure, Westerns, 1800s, middle grade series

Date(s) Reviewed: September 2007, February 2010

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