Two-time Newbery Honor author turns his formidable talents to this riveting suspense novel about a spirited Irish-American girl who helps save her family from ruin on the Erie Canal in the 1840s.
When Maggie's father loses next year's salary and two of their best mules in a bet with Long-fingered John, the family is left desperate for money. They have only a few days to get the heavy cargo in their mule-drawn barge to Buffalo in order to make a much-needed bonus. But when Papa and Uncle Henry are arrested on an alleged assault charge, 12-year-old Maggie, her younger brother, and their ailing mother must fight all manner of adversity to save their boat, their mules, and their life savings. Jim Murphy is at his best in this colorful and gritty slice of 19th-C. life on the Erie Canal.
Jim Murphy is the celebrated author of more than thirty-five books for young readers, most notably TRUCE: THE DAY THE SOLDIERS STOPPED FIGHTING and THE GREAT FIRE, a Newbery Honor Winner. His carefully researched, engaging, and elegantly written nonfiction has garnered the most prestigious awards in the field. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his wife and their two sons.
What an awesome book. I first read the reviews in the Buffalo News Next section. I bought the book, read it and mailed it to CT to my grandson, age 9. Since then I have toured the Lois McClure at the Buffalo Marina and gone through the locks at Lockport with my daughter and grandkids. I travel constantly on the NYS thruway and always think about the canal that runs parallel to the highway. I will buy a second book for my 7yr old grandson, his sister and mom for reading aloud. The content is not too grown up for todays saavy kids. Reminds me of Little House days, but on the water. Will prob check out author's other books also.
More than 1 year ago
I gave a copy of Desperate Journeys to my friend¿s 11-year-old son for his birthday, and he just loved it. Even though the main character is a girl, the adventure and setting really appealed to him. Jim Murphy builds in lots of suspense to the story, and you feel as if you¿re traveling along the Erie Canal with the family of 12-year-old Maggie Haggerty. I¿ve personally read a lot of canal history, and this book brings that part of our history to life better than anything I¿ve read before, either for adults or kids. This is a terrific book!
More than 1 year ago
Jim Murphy has done it again. He's a great storyteller and this time he's turned his attention to historical fiction. Maggie and her family are canallers. Set against the backdrop of the Erie Canal, Murphy has fashioned a riviting story with a truly compelling main character. With her younger brother, parents and uncle, Maggie faces all kinds of odds as she makes a desperate journey to save her family from ruin. Middle grade readers will be rooting for this heroine and wishing they could read more. Teachers will want to use this book for fun reading as well as to introduce readers to a myriad of subjects: canals, immigrant life, and westward expansion, knowing that Murphy has brought his sense of historical sweep and attention to detail to bear.