Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart...

How I Heard About It:  One of my favorite middle-grade novels is The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart.  I think I read it in one sitting and it tore me apart (in a good way).  I was thrilled to pick up an ARC of Dan's second novel at NCTE15.  I finally got around to reading it and this is another sure winner!  

What It Is About:  The author has switched gears this time and created a beautiful historical fiction story about Joseph and a journey that will change his life forever.  Joseph has lost everyone he has loved.  His mother and sister have died due to illness and now his father has been killed in an accident.  It is just Joseph and his prized horse Sarah.  After Sarah is taken from Joe, he ventures out into the wild to bring her back to where she belongs.  When his journey begins he comes across Cheng, a young Chinese boy.  They can't communicate via words, but they learn how to "talk" in other ways.  The two boys venture into the woods where they come across dangerous animals and even more dangerous men.  Many times they come close to getting Sarah back only to be stopped by the elements of nature and humans.  Even with many hardships, they continue on with strength and never ending perseverance.  Joseph has only one goal in his mind and heart and will stop at nothing to be reunited with his beloved Sarah.  He has to decide at what cost this "reunion" will come at.  

What I Thought Of It:  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  When I first began the book I was surprised that this time the setting was in the past and not realistic fiction like Dan's first novel.  When authors can completely switch gears in the types of stories they write, I'm always in awe.  The character of Joseph was one of a kind and I found myself side by side this young man on this journey of a lifetime.  When he was successful I felt successful.  When he had setbacks, I felt those in my heart.  I'm not sure I have ever rooted for a character so much as I did with Joseph.  All characters that he met along the way added greatly to the story with each and every one of them necessary to the plot.  The pacing of the story was excellent and kept me on the edge of my "reading chair".  There were lots of "OMG" moments and times when I was truly nervous for Joe and his situation.  

Who Should Read It:  When I closed the book I knew I was going to share it with my fourth grade students THIS year.  I'm actually going to pick it as a Breakfast with Books book club selection for later this spring.  I so want my students to experience this incredible story.  The book is perfect for readers in grades four and above.  If you are looking for a strong cliffhanger type story to read aloud to your class, this is the book.  Adult readers you also need to experience this story.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

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