Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… reimagined.
When a wagon train of Black pioneers rescues the seven orphaned Dalton cousins from the side of the trail, it seems like an answer to their prayers. As they roll west toward Kansas, fourteen-year-old Levi Dalton is dazzled by the beautiful Mrs. Mallone. She’s a healer, and her knowledge of medicines and herbs inspires Levi to want to become a doctor. Maybe then he can stop people from dying of fevers and illnesses like his folks did.
But Mrs. Mallone’s stepdaughter, Hopeful, warns Levi not to become too attached to the healer. Levi dismisses her warnings and his own misgivings until the day he sees something dreadful.
Levi knows he needs to tell someone what he’s seen before it’s too late. But will anyone believe the story of a fourteen-year-old orphan? Will anyone stand up to evil, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged?
This delightful middle grade book is the perfect introduction to stories about the pioneer experience in the American West. There is a diverse cast of characters, and young readers will feel an affinity with Levi and his orphaned status.
The people of color that save Levi and his siblings by allowing them to join their wagon train remind us that we are a country of many complexions and backgrounds. Hopeful, Ness and the rest of those on the wagon train are wonderful representations of the diversity that is ignored in most historical narratives.
As a young reader, I loved Laura Ingall’s Wilders Little House series. This finely crafted tale belongs in that canon for all of those who dream of freedom on a farm of their own, or yearn for adventure.
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