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A Dangerous Promise (The Orphan Train Adventures Series #5)

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A Dangerous Promise

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-The Civil War is raging and Mike Kelly, 12, who came to the Midwest on an orphan train, runs away from home with his friend Todd to join the Union Army. As musicians in the Second Kansas Infantry, they make a long and difficult march into Missouri, where they encounter General McCulloch's Missouri Guard at the arduous Battle of Wilson's Creek. Mike is wounded and left for dead; Todd is brutally killed. Mike looks on in agony while a man takes an heirloom pocket watch from his friend's body-he'd promised Todd he'd return it to his sister if anything ever happened to him. He is rescued by a Confederate soldier-someone he'd known on the orphan train-and eventually rejoins his regiment and has several adventures and close calls with Confederate sympathizers along the way. His overriding mission, however, is to retrieve Todd's watch. Nixon writes energetically and maintains an aura of adventure and danger. She clearly portrays the horrors of war, and the particular agony of this war. Her characters are finely drawn and multifaceted, the plot is lively, and the details are well chosen. This is history come to life.-Joyce Adams Burner, formerly at Spring Hill Middle School, KS
Chris Sherman
Fans of the Orphan Train Quartet will be delighted that Nixon is continuing the story of the Kelly family in a new series, the Orphan Train Adventures. In 1861, 12-year-old Mike Kelly and his friend Todd Blakely run away and join the Second Kansas Infantry. They're too young to fight, but they're old enough to be drummers and are convinced the Union forces need them. Their first engagement, the Battle of Wilson's Creek, is a bloody rout. Todd is fatally wounded, and Mike is left for dead. Rescued by a rebel soldier who's a friend from the Orphan Train, Mike is tended by a sympathetic family. Before he can rejoin his unit, however, he must make his way back through enemy territory and fulfill a promise made to Todd. Nixon's story is an action-packed, realistic adventure. Through Mike's eyes, readers view the alternating boredom and sheer terror of war, the effects of war on civilians, and the factors that divided families as well as the country. There's also a tantalizing hint about what Kelly faces in the next adventure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440219651
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/1995
  • Series: Orphan Train Adventures Series , #5
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 207,286
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.14 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2009


    It's 1861 a boy named Mike Kelly is far younger than the legal age of sixteen . He dreams of becoming a drummer in the Union army . Mike and his friend Todd secretly go to Kansas city to become drummers for the Union army and lead their troops to battle. Him and his friend Todd take an orphan carriage to the city were the battle is going to start in Wilson's Creek. The officer is impress with the skills of Mike and Todd and let them join the army. They are a half hour away from going to battle in Wilson's Creek. Mike must lead the army to battle. Will he make it with his friend Todd? Or we he fail and disappoint his father...

    Reviewed By: Enrique stupidly

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2007

    Great Classroom Resource

    Is war glorious? In the eyes of 12 year old Mike Kelly and his friend, Todd Blakely, they just couldn't wait to join the 2nd Kansas Infantry. They soon discovered, however, that fighting was a lot less glamorous than they had anticipated. As Mike sees family members pitted against each other, the atrocities acted out by both Union and Confederate soldiers, and the death of his friend right before his eyes, Mike learns how horrible the fighting really is, and the wounds, both physical and emotional, it can cause. As Mike seeks to rejoin his unit after being separated from them in battle, throughout which he is trying to keep a promise to his fallen friend, he learns valuable lessons about war, friendship, honor, sacrifice, and duty. As a Social Studies teacher, I would recommend this book for any educator, parent, or student who wants a read full of action, danger, and suspense. Joan Lowery Nixon has masterfully given all of this, while weaving in the facts of the time period, and life lessons that are invaluable truths for children and adults alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2006

    Best Book I've read this year!

    Michael Kelly and his best friend, Todd, dream of being drummers in the Union Army, so Mike and Todd secretly train themselves the calls. Once they knew all the calls, they leave and try to join the Second Kansas, without permission from their parents. Mike and Todd are almost thirteen, and to join they have to be sixteen years old, Mike admits that he is not sixteen, but he didn¿t have to because he was signing up as a drummer. Todd said that if he died, Mike would bring his pocket watch, which is very valuable to him, to Todd sister, Emily. In a battle, a Confederate soldier stabs Todd in the chest¿ and Todd dies. Mike is injured, and taken care of, after his leg is fine, he left. Mike now has to achieve what he promised. A confederate soldier takes Todd¿s pocket watch, Mike now has to get it back and bring it to Todd¿s sister. Mike goes on a dangerous mission, and even in enemy areas. When Mike rejoins the Second Kansas, he gets an Honorable Discharge, still, Mike wont ever give up trying to get Todd¿s pocket watch back and achieving what he promised to Todd.J A Dangerous Promise was a very good book. There was a lot of action and thrilling scenes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    History comes to life!

    'Mike took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the drumbeats, but he couldn't ignore the sight of the dead all around him, some with gaping wounds in their chest, some with parts of their heads blown away. The most terrifying sight was the wounded soldiers who were still alive, some writhing and screaming in agony. No one at that moment could respond to their cries.' Twelve-year-old Mike Kelly, an orphan, and his friend Todd, decide to run away from home to join the Union Army. They are too young to fight; but they join the Second Kansas Infantry as their drummer and bugle player. The first battle of the boy's experience was the Battle of Wilson's Creek, where Mike gets shot in the leg and Todd is brutally killed. As Mike is lying on the ground in pain, he sees a man steal Todd's prized pocket watch from his uniform. Mike earlier made Todd the promise that if anything happened to him he would make sure to return the watch to his sister. Mike must travel back through enemy territory in order to retrieve the watch and fulfill his promise. Will Mike return Todd's watch and see his family again? You'll have to read the book, A Dangerous Promise, to find out. This story is wonderful. I would recommend this book to all you boy war fans out there. On a scale from one to ten, one being the least and ten being the most, I think this book deserves a nine plus. My favorite part of the book is the Battle of Wilson's Creek. You can't stop reading about it because it explains so many horrid and realistic events. I am mainly talking about the part where Mike Kelly is drumming and he looks up and sees people with their heads, legs, and arms blown off. Worse yet, many wounded are screaming for their family. Joan Lowry Nixon did a great job on this wonderful historical fiction war story, by making history come to life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

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