Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Shy little Emily lived a calm, orderly life with her pet turtle Rufus and her mother, who worked for the wealthy Luella Nash. When both women were killed in a carriage accident, Emily was left a frightened orphan. Kind neighbors hustled Emily onto a stagecoach headed for her Aunt Hilda's out west, keeping Emily one step ahead of Catchum Child Catching Services and the odious Miss Catchum. Also in hot pursuit was Emily's villainous Uncle Victor, who was after Emily's inheritance from Miss Nash. Joining Emily on the stagecoach is the feisty orphan Jackson. So begins a rollickin,' rip-roaring adventure complete with cliff hangers and plenty of action, most of which takes place on the stagecoach. Little Emily soon becomes quite the spunky, clever heroine, summoning courage she did not know she had. Kids will be rooting for her all the way. The plot moves along at breakneck speed with phrases like "ding-dong Dickens," "flippin' flapjacks," and "freakin' frazzles" adding to the fun. All in all it is a rootin' tootin' action-packed tale that will appeal to both boys and girls, and would be a sure-fire classroom read aloud. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's latest story (Delacorte, 2010) is set during the time of westward expansion, gold rushes, and stagecoaches. Emily Higgins is orphaned and without a friend in the world except for her pet turtle, Rufus. She's been sheltered most of her life and must rely on the help of three neighborly women to help her figure out what to do next. They help her get started on her way to her kind Aunt Hilda's, but her shifty Uncle Victor and the Catchum Child-Catching Services are hot on her heels. Soon Emily meets Jackson, another young orphan traveling by stagecoach, and she learns about friendship and how to fend for herself. Twists and turns, literally and figuratively, keep this story bouncing along with suspense and humor. Narrator Lee Adams enhances Naylor's brilliant use of vernacular, giving many characters weathered voices that speak of the past. An entertaining tale.—April Mazza, Wayland Public Library, Wayland MA
Naylor takes readers on a rollicking ride to the Wild West in this comedy-adventure starring a tiny, extremely shy eight-year-old orphan, Emily, her pet turtle, Rufus, and a wild boy named Jackson who comes to her rescue. When Emily's mother and her wealthy lady employer are killed in a carriage accident, Emily chooses to go to her sweet Aunt Hilda in the West instead of her awful Uncle Victor. On her stagecoach ride west, Jackson, another orphan, helps Emily keep steps ahead of the terrible Child Catchers, but worse danger looms when Emily learns she's inherited a fortune, and greedy Uncle Victor shows up on the stagecoach looking for her. Collins provides lively line drawings that capture the action, while the author provides real suspense and comedy with her population of verging-on-caricature characters. Can Emily escape her Uncle? Can she stay with Rufus? At the end of each chapter, direct-address questions in huge type and alliterative archaic phrases launch readers into the next chapter. Emily comes across as a fully developed and appealing character. Great fun. (Historical fiction. 7-10)
Read an Excerpt
Painted on the door of the carriage was a sign that read
Catchum Child-Catching Services
Trumpet Junction Branch
Orphans, Strays, and Roustabouts
Rounded Up Quickly
Emily jumped behind a mail cart so fast that she bumped into a boy in a faded brown jacket.
"Hey!" he said. "Watch where you're going!" And then, "You're an orphan too, aren't you?"
"How did you know?" she asked him.
He shrugged. "Saw you trying to hide from the Child Catchers, just like I used to do."