Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Adaline Shooting Star

Book Number: 
754
Date Fred Read: 
May 2018
Fred's Rating: 
3
Author: 
Mary Pope Osborne
Total Pages: 
169
Publisher: 
Scholastic Press
Year: 
2000

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of many distinguished books, in almost every genre, for children and young adults. She is a past president of the Author’s Guild. This book was loaned to me by the girl I mentioned in book 753. I loaned her 'The New World of Mr. Tompkins' (book 471).

The Amazon website has a view of the front cover, one one-line review, and no option to ‘Look inside,’ so I need not give it here. The Author’s Note is interesting: “This story is fiction. Years ago, while researching my book ‘American Tall Tales,’ I read that legendary scout Kit Carson married an Arapaho woman, and together they had a daughter whom he named Adaline. When her mother died, Adaline was sent to live with relatives in St. Louis while her father headed off on exploration with Lieutenant John C. Fremont, known as the Pathfinder. Hardly anything is known about the real Adaline Carson’s life, though one historian quoted a Carson relative as saying Adaline ‘was a wild girl.’ Those words haunted me. I sensed that Adaline had been misunderstood and that she had her own story to tell. Soon a fictional Adaline was born and she provoked this imagined story.”

The 2-pp Foreword sounds like how an Arapaho girl might tell it: “The night I was born on Horse Creek, the sky rained fire. Dogs howled and growled. Arapaho warriors put on red war paint and did a death dance.

“Leastwise, that’s what Pa tells me. He says my hair was as black as a crow’s wing, my eyes the color of a mud pond; but my skin was the color of a half-tanned fox hide, plainly showing the mix of white and Indian blood.

“My ma told me Pa was so proud he shouted with joy. – Outta her way and let her ride!

“But my Arapaho grandpa, Running-in-a-Circle, did not take an immediate liking to me. He thought I had something to do with the strange doings in the sky. The Great Spirit is angry with this birth. He is shooting arrows of fire at us. We must kill her.

“Hold on there, in-law, you’re talking wildcat gibberish. She’s my little darter.

“When things didn’t seem to be straightening out, Pa got on his horse and galloped for Bent’s Fort. He came back with Doc Hempstead, who wanted to know why there was all this commotion over a tiny half-breed baby.

“When Running-in-a-Circle repeated his theory about the fire arrows, Doc set him right.

“Oh I don’t think so. I got me a special knowledge called Science. It explains how a bunch of dirty old rocks sometimes fall through the sky, and when they get near the earth, they burn up. That’s the fire you saw. They’re called meteors – or falling stars, if you like pretty words. But one thing’s certain – they don’t have anything to do with the birth of this pretty little mongrel baby.

“Running-in-a-Circle sensed that Doc’s knowledge had a truth to it and said I could live.

“From then on, my white pa called me Adaline.

“But my red ma gave me another name: Falling Star.”

Now I am certain that this Foreword would excite the imagination of a young girl and make her want to read this book right away. Especially if she reads the hardback’s front flap:

“After her mother dies, Adaline is sent to live in St. Louis while her father – the famous scout Kit Carson – explores the West. But cruel relatives and her own daring nature soon force Adaline to to extreme measures. Yearning for the faraway world of her mother’s people, and desperate for proof of her father’s love, she runs away and forges her own course through the wilderness. When she allows an abandoned dog to join her on the trail, and to enter her heart, everything she ever knew about love and loyalty is put to the test.

“Breathlessly paced and exquisitely written, this gritty and tender tale of survival offers wisdom about the scars of loss and the healing power of forgiveness.”

This little book didn’t get much coverage, but reading it reminded me of how excited I got, when I was much younger, to read an adventure story like this one. At my age now, I found it predictable but still enjoyable, so I give it a three-star rating.