Monday, August 3, 2009

Review of "Martha's Freedom Train"

Posted by Cindy Beck

Today, it’s my privilege to review a charming book of historical fiction, written for children by my good friend, C. LaRene Hall.


Martha and her parents escape slavery with the help of many conductors for the Underground Railroad—an escape route set up by people of all colors. They finally have a safe place to stay, but Mama has caught pneumonia and is too ill to travel farther. Papa learns about a wagon train of Mormons traveling west, and he takes Martha to meet them. Her heart almost breaks when he sends her west with these strangers. Martha encounters many exciting adventures along the way. They cross rivers, see Indians and buffalo. She helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, they accidentally leave her behind. Once they reach the Salt Lake valley, she still has choices to make, and Martha wonders how her papa will find her.


This is a delightful story that’s quick reading, and yet contains enough excitement that it’s hard to put down. It’s well written and the characters capture the imagination. Although it’s intended for those ten and older, I found it fun, even as an adult. I liked the moral of the story, that God loves all children regardless of color, and mentally cheered in the section that disclosed Martha had a burning desire to learn to read.

In addition, children and adults alike will enjoy the cute penciled illustrations that depict slices of Martha’s journey. And I loved the pioneer recipes for journey cakes and prickly pear jelly at the back of the book.

Now, if I could just manage to pick a few prickly pears without getting poked …


I thought you might like to know a little about LaRene, so here are a few of her responses to Crazy Eights, a game of tag she participated in earlier this year. If you’d like to read all her answers, click here.

Eight Things C. LaRene Hall Wishes She Could Do:
1. Go along ways away
2. Have more writing time
3. Have more time everyday to do what I want
4. Find someone to publish my next book
5. Travel to new places all the time
6. Have no bills
7. Have enough money to travel
8. Have no weeds in the yard

Eight Shows She Watches:
1. News
2. Perry Mason
3. Murder She Wrote
4. My Three Sons
5. I don’t know what else is on. I don’t start watching anything until after 9 pm
6. This is a hard question and I have no answers.
7. A good movie if there is any on.
8. I don’t watch much TV because I’d rather write or read.