Danger Along the Ohio

by Patricia Willis

School Library Journal : Gr 4-7--Willis combines the suspense of a page-turner, the danger level of a thriller, the fascination of a survival story, and the ease of a hi/lo vocabulary. In 1793, three siblings (Amos, 13; Clara, 12; Jonathan, 7) are separated from their father during their immigration, via flatboat, down the Ohio River from their Pennsylvania home to a new beginning in the Ohio wilderness. After an Indian attack, the three are left with no adult support, scant supplies, no transportation, and a cow in tow to journey along the dangerous Shawnee side of the Ohio to the safety of the Marietta settlement. Readers will recognize the breathless pace they've loved in action movies, defined by the eruption of a new crisis on the heels of each crisis resolution, as the siblings struggle against the odds: scavenging food; stealing fire from the Indians; whittling tools for catching supper; rescuing a young Shawnee from drowning; and treating wounds with chickweed and birch leaves. The author's sturdy plot advances distinctly and chronologically, resulting in pure suspense. She keeps her vocabulary action-oriented and her dialogue straightforward. The young Shawnee's presence raises intriguing philosophical questions regarding the nature of communication and the components of true friendship. After all of this, who could complain about a contrived happy ending?--Liza Bliss, Worcester Public Library, MA

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