Customer Reviews for

The Candle Star (Divided Decade Collection)

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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  • Posted April 27, 2014

    This is the first book in a trilogy examining the Civil War thro

    This is the first book in a trilogy examining the Civil War through the Underground railroad setting in Michigan in 1858. In this first volume, the protagonist is fourteen year old Emily whose petulant personality and insolent behavior has resulted in her parents’ shipping her off to stay with an uncle in Michigan. Emily has never been off the Ella Wood plantation in the Carolinas. She presumes her life will be much the same, and her faithful slave Zeke tries to make her comfortable.

    Things turn out very differently. Emily will not have a tutor, she will have to walk to a school, do chores in her Uncle Issac’s inn, and learn to deal with free slaves who are her equal. Emily rebels at once, she steals a neighbor’s horse, skips school, and treats the household members as if they were “her slaves.” Her uncle refuses to give in to her; he cringes when she befriends slave bounty hunters from Virginia as her equals. Emily is curious to find out what her uncle writes in a small book hidden in a secret compartment. But gradually she must learn to respect another way of thinking, her black friend Malachi makes her realize that her way of thinking may be jaded. He encourages her to pursue her dreams of painting and not to limit her goals to become a proper Southern plantation wife.

    Isenhoff has done her research. She introduces characters based on real prototypes like Frederick Douglass and George deBaptiste. Her language is smooth and polished. Take the following excerpt: “Emily looked the boy over. He had skin the color of strong tea before the cream was added, and his eyes were as dark as the midnight sky.” The reader quickly assimilates himself into the character. Only complaint I have is that the story line sometimes seems to move too slowly, but it is certainly not predictable. There are many twists and turns and lots of surprises before Emily is ready to return home to her plantation. Changes are on the horizon for the country. Will Emily be successful in acclimating herself to a changed order? What will happen to her uncle and staff at the River Inn?

    I would recommend this book to children and adults age ten and up. There are lots of issues that middle grade students are facing that are addressed in the book irrespective of the difference in time period. Any reader who enjoys history, character study and good writing will enjoy this book series. Classroom teachers and librarians should consider it a good resource to a study of the pre-Civil War period from a humanistic point of view.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011


    My daughter read and loved The Candle Star. This is her review:

    The Candle Star is set back in the slave days and is about a 12-year old girl, Emily Preston, who lives on a plantation in South Carolina, but whose parents send her to stay with her uncle in Detroit. Apparently, her parents think that she could use an attitude adjustment and that her uncle could maybe help with that. And her parents are right. Emily is sarcastic and self-important. When she first arrives at her uncle's, she decides that she will be so unlikeable that her uncle will send her home.

    Ms. Isenhoff writes in a very descriptive way. It is so colorful that I felt like I could really see what was happening. There were a couple of times, like when Emily was being mean to the old slave man who accompanied her on her trip, when I just felt like crying. But that's a good thing- it was just because Ms. Isenhoff's writing was so good. She showed Emily's character development from the beginning, when Emily was self-absorbed to the end, when Emily had learned that there are larger things in life than herself.

    I liked the Candle Star because it showed a period of time that I haven't had a chance yet to learn much about. And Ms. Isenhoff made it come alive for me. Her characters were all so vivid that I felt like I actually knew them and I was sad when the book was over.

    The only thing that was hard for me was some of the slave dialogue. It was hard for me to understand and I had to read it twice. But that wasn't the author's fault- it seems like it was the way they truly spoke, so she was being true to the era.

    I would recommend The Candle Star to anyone. And in fact, when school starts, I'm going to recommend it to my teacher. It would be great for my class to read. The characters were likeable, the writing was vivid and interesting and the plot was complex. I give it 5/5 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Great piece of historical fiction!

    Okay, I'm going to start this off by stating a quick fact. I hated history. It was my all-time worst subject in school. Ironically, it's the only subject my fiancée, Mike, was good at. Anyway.I'm horrible when it comes to remembering dates, the only things I know about WWII was the stuff I've seen in movies and read in Anne Frank's diary, all I can tell you about Napoleon was he was short, and I'm still not sure how many states are in the USA. Okay, so maybe that last part is an exaggeration, but you get my point. What does that have to do with anything you might ask.

    The Candle Star, by Michelle Isenhoff, is a brilliant work of historical fiction. Slavery is, for me, always a difficult read, but Michelle does such a great job of not throwing it in your face, but making sure the reader knows it's a predominant storyline. It's detailed to the point where I could almost imagine riding Coal Dust, a neighbor's horse that the main character, Emily, took care of as punishment for skipping school. The characters are believable, and fit well with the time period.

    The Underground Railroad, for those of you who, like me, need a refresher course on All Things History 101, was a chain of safe houses used by slaves to escape to states that had already abolished slavery. It's also the backdrop for The Candle Star. Emily is a southern girl, whose father owns a plantation, along with many slaves. That's the only lifestyle Emily has ever known. She's a perfect example of the saying 'ignorance is bliss' because she's happy with the things occurring around her, and wouldn't want it any other way, until she gets sent to stay with her uncle, who lives up north. Upon going there, she realizes it's a whole different world - one where her uncle doesn't own any slaves, and helps them on their way to freedom.

    The Candle Star has a whole host of awesome factors, one of which is the characters. I really liked Zeke, the former slave that accompanies Emily on her trip to her uncle's home. I felt Julia was very realistic, and some of the things she said to Malachi reminded me of things my mother has said to me, which made the story even better for me. Michelle Isenhoff does an amazing job of creating characters that makes the reader want to exist in that time period, just so you can shake their hand.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Love the story

    Well done for the most part....too light on character development but plot holds up

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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