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Gunfight at the O. K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    well researched and exciting historical fiction

    Do you think that it would be fun to go back in time and witness interesting events, like the famous gunfight at the O. K. Corral in Tombstone, AZ? Eight-year-old Luke Bartlett and his older sister Jenny were going to visit Disneyland for vacation, but their father was called with his Army Reserve Unit to serve in Iraq, so their mother is taking them to see their grandparents at Dallas, TX, instead. The kids are bored, but when they stop in Tombstone, AZ, something strange happens. While sitting on a bench as their mother shopped, they meet the Swamper, a handyman who lived downstairs in the Grand Hotel back in the 1880s-or rather his ghost.
    Luke and Jenny also become "spirit people" (Swamper says, "Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a spirit person. It has a nicer ring to it, don't you think? The word 'ghost' sounds too much like Halloween.") The Swamper takes them back to the streets of old Tombstone during the days of Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp and the Cowboy Gang of outlaws led by Ike Clanton and Frank McClaury. Beginning on Oct. 28, 1880, when Marshall Fred White was shot, most conclude accidentally, by Curly Bill Brocius, they follow the simmering feud between the two groups that led up to the Oct. 26, 1881, shoot out in which Tom and Frank McClaury and Billy Clanton were killed, and then the aftermath as both sides began to assassinate key members of the opposing factions.
    Author Gayle Martin not only tells the story from an eyewitness viewpoint as accurately as possible, noting that there are a lot of facts about many of the events which are simply not known for sure, but also asks questions that deal with the ethical principles underlying what happened. When I was young, the television show Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O'Brien was very popular. While it should never be our desire to tarnish the names of good men unnecessarily, we do need to remember that there were situations where people who generally stood for the right did have faults and make mistakes, so that not every one of their choices is commendable. We can learn from that as well. Gunfight at the O. K. Corral received honorable mention at the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival. It is extremely well researched and written in an exciting and eminently readable style. There is a guide for parents and teachers at the end.

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