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The Misadventures of Maude Marche: Or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse

The Misadventures of Maude Marche: Or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse

4.4 26
by Audrey Couloumbis

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Eleven-year-old Sallie March is a whip-smart tomboy and voracious reader of Western adventure novels. When she and her sister Maude escape their self-serving guardians for the wilds of the frontier, they begin an adventure the likes of which Sallie has only read about. This time however, the "wanted woman" isn't a dime-novel villian, it's Sallie's very own


Eleven-year-old Sallie March is a whip-smart tomboy and voracious reader of Western adventure novels. When she and her sister Maude escape their self-serving guardians for the wilds of the frontier, they begin an adventure the likes of which Sallie has only read about. This time however, the "wanted woman" isn't a dime-novel villian, it's Sallie's very own sister! What follows is not the lies the papers printed, but the honest-to-goodness truth of how two sisters went from being orphans to being outlaws—and lived to tell the tale!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Featuring equal doses of comedy and adventure, this novel written with broad strokes and tongue-in-cheek commentary about pioneer life is sure to rustle up a new herd of fans for Couloumbis," said PW. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this romping tale of the Wild West, Maude and Sallie March are out shopping with their aunt when she is accidentally gunned down by a notorious range rider. Orphaned for the second time in their lives, they are made to live with a family that takes advantage of them and wants to marry off fifteen-year-old Maude. Taking what they feel is rightfully theirs, the girls disguise themselves as boys and leave Iowa in the middle of the night. Their aim is to travel 300 miles to look for a long-lost uncle in Independence, Missouri. Along the trail, though, there are scads of mishaps and scrapes, and soon they are being pursued for bank-robbing, horse-thievery, and murder. Eleven-year-old Sally, in a yarn that is fun and far-fetched and akin to the stories in the dime novels she so loves, describes their brave trek across the plains, including encounters with a rattlesnake and a cougar, an unsavory gang, and a blizzard. This is excitin' stuff that you quickly start readin' with a frontier twang. It is a good book that should challenge and amuse the upper elementary crowd. It is not apt to be a favorite with teens, due to the age of the narrator and a plot that may feel too simple or contrived to the older reader. For instance, the girls find their uncle after just one day in Missouri, though they have almost nothing to go on. The book has a neat book with ole-timey lettering and ads, and a map to follow along. 2005, Random House, Ages 8 to 12.
—Jane Harrington <%ISBN%>0375832459
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-This Wild West tale opens with Sallie March, 11, and her 15-year-old sister Maud living with Aunt Ruthie since the death of their mother. Maude is ladylike and proper, while Sallie fantasizes about the adventures in the dime novels she devours. When Aunt Ruthie is killed by a random bullet, the girls have problems with their new guardians. Having few other options, they set out on their own to find their uncle in Missouri. After a series of misunderstandings and more random incidents, the sisters find themselves on the wrong side of the law involved in robbery and murder, with Maude being written up in the papers as "Mad Maude" who has gone "crazy with grief." Told from Sallie's perspective, Audrey Couloumbis's novel (Random, 2005) is a rollicking adventure like few others. Narrator Lee Adams draws listeners in with her realistic tone of voice and slow manner of speaking. Sallie is clearly conveyed as spunky and smart, and Maude's moody temperament is made apparent through pitch and subtle inflections. While not fully voiced, listeners will have no trouble tracking the characters. This audio journey through the Wild West is not to be missed.-Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Maude March Series
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.07(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


The heat was awful.

The breeze, when we got one, felt like it came out of an oven. Aunt Ruthie hoped to take our minds off our misery by taking us to town. Even in the dim cool of the mercantile, sweat made our clothing cling to our skin.

My dress was the worst, made out of some kind of muslin that got itchy once it stuck to me. Every two minutes, Aunt Ruthie would say, "Stop scratching, Sallie, it isn't polite."

The shooting didn't start until we'd stepped outside of the mercantile. The screen door whacked shut behind us, and we were greeted by a volley of shots. It was stunning really. Then it was scary. The noise was too great to take it all in at once.

It's strange the way time stretched in that moment and seemed to go on forever. The entire morning passed through my mind, starting when my older sister Maude ate my biscuit with jelly that I had left over from breakfast.

When I complained there were no more biscuits, and that was the last of the black currant jelly, she said,
"If you wanted it, you shouldn't have left it laying around." So while Aunt Ruthie said it was the heat, I
knew it was that biscuit that had me squabbling with Maude all day.

As we neared the barber shop, walking to town, Maude pulled Aunt Ruthie toward a stone bench, saying,
"You're tiring yourself. Come sit down for a minute," and I dragged on Aunt Ruthie's other arm, saying, "It gets too hot to sit on that rock in the sun. Let's go someplace cooler."

Aunt Ruthie said, "I've had enough of being pulled apart."

In the mercantile, she showed her teeth at us and whispered, "You are to keep your distance, both of you. I don't care to listen to you bicker for another minute." We promised to be good. To this, she said,
"Stay over there by the farm goods."

In these aisles, there were only smelly jars of lanolin and herbal salves to examine, and such things as curative oils for ear mites and wireworm to avoid, having nasty little pictures of the ills on the side of the bottles. This bothered me so bad that I pulled a dimer out of my pocket and set to reading it instead.

But Aunt Ruthie was right in sending us there. It was not two minutes before Maude started up again.
She told me that Joe Harden Frontier Fighter, was never a real man. "Those books weren't meant for girls to read, either," she said.

"How would you know?" I said to her. Maude didn't like for me to read dime novels. Sad to say, Maude thought dimers were a waste of learning how to read.

"It's just a made-up name for made-up stories out of books," she said. "Boys probably look up to him, but
Joe Harden is just a story figure."

"Like David?" I asked her.

"David who?"

"David who slew Goliath. Is he made up?"

"Of course not, Sallie," Maude said. "What a terrible thing to say. Don't you let Aunt Ruthie hear you talk like that."

I didn't think Aunt Ruthie would care all that much. She hardly ever cared about anything but whether the work was done right. Maude was the one who cared about such things.

Maude and me were orphaned when our folks took sick with the fever. Aunt Ruthie had already started out from Philadelphia to come live with us and teach school. By the time she got to Cedar Rapids, Aunt
Ruthie had to take us in. Or rather, we took her in, and she took care of us.

I'm forgetting Uncle Arlen. He was Aunt Ruthie's, and Momma's, younger brother, but he had gone west not long after our folks died, and we had not heard from him in years. So he didn't count as kin. Aunt
Ruthie herself said he was as good as dead to us.

She felt he ought to have stayed around to help her raise us, I guess. Around the middle of winter, she felt he ought to have stayed around to chop wood; that was when I heard his name mentioned most often. Aunt Ruthie could hold a grudge second to none.

"David's out of a book," I said stubbornly, "and I ain't never seen any giants."

"That's because he killed them all," Maude told me. "You have to stop reading those cheap stories. Your grammar is atrocious."

"You ever seen any Indians?" I asked her.

"Not around here," Maude said.

"That's because Joe Harden, Frontier Fighter, cleared them all out. Single-handed." That's what I said. But down deep, I believed Maude.

"Single-handedly," she said. Maude had in the past year begun to help Aunt Ruthie in the classroom, and she had become quite a stickler. "Kansas is a frontier, Sallie. Iowa is civilized."

"It didn't used to be," I said, but only because it grated on me sometimes that Maude knew just about everything.

Everything except what I had learned from those dime novels. I just knew that if I ever had to survive off the land the way the frontier fighters did, if I had to kill a bear or outsmart a wily Indian, I'd be better able to do it than my sister.

"Ask Aunt Ruthie about Joe Harden then," Maude said as Aunt Ruthie came our way, carrying her purchases, wrapped in brown paper that nearly matched her dress.

We'd been orphans for six years. In that time, given the choice between Maude's answers and Aunt
Ruthie's, when mulling over the knobbly questions of life, I'd found Maude's to be more to the point.

Maude said, "Go ahead, ask."

"Don't you dare ask me anything." Aunt Ruthie strode right on past us. "Some days it isn't even a good idea to get out of bed," she muttered as we left the mercantile.

Meet the Author

Audrey Couloumbis's first book for children, Getting Near to Baby, won the Newbery Honor in 2000. She lives in upstate New York and Florida with her husband, Akila, and their dog, Phoebe. They have two grown children.

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Misadventures of Maude Marche: Or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Charlotte_Isabella More than 1 year ago
This was a good old fashioned western. It had everything a good western has: bank robberies, dimers (dime novels bought at a general store), unwanted marriage at a young age, gun fights in saloons, everything. I believe Couloumbis is one of the best western novelists in this century. She tells the story from Sallie March's point of view. Sallie and Maude are on the run when she does not want to marry the man that is old enough to be her grandfather. Her Aunt has been accidentally shot and killed by this guy who is the infamous Joe Harden from the dimers Sallie reads. They head to find their Uncle Arlen who is supposedly in Independence, Missouri. They are orphaned, so they do not have anything to lose. They are also overworked by their preacher Reverend Peasely and Mrs. Peasely who also steal all of Aunt Ruthie's goods and good quilts. They set out, and they run into one adventure after another. They keep running into Joe Harden who's real name is Marion Hardley. Their paths continually cross until they are in Independence Missiouri. You will have to read to find out what is next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I couldn't put the book down at night because one just wants to know what happened next. I love how the author weaved in history into the book. Survival skills also. A great book for boys or girls, and grown-ups!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is AMAZING!!!! I love the book and the sequel. Audrey is a talented writer and should write a third one to go along with the Maude March series. Please read this book, it is hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I would recomend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly highly recommend this book! It is a very good book. Most adventure lovers would love this book! Kinda slow in the beggining but gets really good laater on. I just dont want to stop reading!
littemisssunshine More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down
Toni Meyer More than 1 year ago
i love this book and i am really picky about book but i ggive it 5stars
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so awesome because I really got into it and it was great to read a book that had some good humor in it! I would recommend this book to all ages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
it is about a girl and her sister who go out and get a horse and are accused of stealing and stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was really good!! it has action, and a western theme! but the action and adventure was really eye popping!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I luv this book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normaly I like books like this. I found the main charter very whiny and beraty. Would not recamend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book over and over! The adventure is so great!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dear adventurers, This amazing story is about two sisters Sallie and Maude March who become out-laws for stealing horses! Their care taker was their aunt Ruthie until she gets murdered by Joe Harden (sallies hero from her dimers.)So a couple(the Peaslys) take them in. But a older man asks maude to marry him. The problem is maude doesnt want to get married. So the march girls RUNAWAY to Independence to find their Uncle Arlen! On tere way they find Joe Harden running away too!The march sisters find out that life on the run is hard!Does this sound execiting to you then get this book I reccmend this book!
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Greyton? Kat?