Synopses & Reviews
YOUNG, SKINNY, WIRY FELLOWS NOT OVER EIGHTEEN. MUST BE EXPERT RIDERS. WILLING TO RISK DEATH DAILY. ORPHANS PREFERRED.
When Colton Wescott sees this sign for the Pony Express, he thinks he has the solution to his problems. He's stuck with his ma and two younger sisters on the wrong side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with no way to get across. They were on a wagon train heading to California when Pa accidentally shot Colton and then galloped away. Ma is sick, and Colton needs money to pay the doctor. He'd make good money as a Pony rider.
Colton also needs to get to California -- urgently -- to deliver freedom papers to Ma's sister, a runaway slave. The Pony Express job could get him there. There's a catch, though. Colton may look almost as white as his pa, but he knows from bitter experience what can happen when people find out Ma is black. To be a Pony rider, he'll have to pass for white. That scares him, and for good reason. If his secret is discovered, he could hang.
Soon Colton is on the ride of his life, racing the dangerous route over the mountains. He's riding for his family, for freedom, and maybe even to help keep a divided America together. As the nation plunges toward civil war, Colton struggles to unite the two parts of his own identity in this gripping, atmospheric adventure.
"Colton's story is one of a courageous and determined boy on a seemingly impossible quest. An exciting and entertaining read."
-- Zilpha Keatley Snyder author of The Egypt Game
andlt;bigandgt;andlt;bandgt;WANTED: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. andlt;/bandgt;andlt;/bigandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; When Colton Wescott sees this sign for the Pony Express, he thinks he has the solution to his problems. He's stuck with his ma and two younger sisters on the wrong side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with no way to get across. They were on the wagon train heading to California when Pa accidentally shot Colton and then galloped away. Ma is sick, and Colton needs money to pay the doctor. He'd make good money as a Pony rider. he also needs to get to California to deliver freedom papers to Ma's sister, a runaway slave. The Pony Express could get him there too... andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Does Colton have what it takes to be a Pony Express rider? And if so, will traveling the dangerous route over the mountains bring him closer to family, freedom, and everything he holds dear?
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Diane Lee Wilson andlt;/Bandgt;is the author of andlt;iandgt;Black Storm Cominand#8217;andlt;/iandgt; (which won a Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile, was a andlt;iandgt;Booklistandlt;/iandgt; Editorsand#8217; Choice, a andlt;iandgt;VOYA andlt;/iandgt;Top Shelf fiction pick, a Notable Social Studies book, a andlt;iandgt;Bulletinandlt;/iandgt; Blue Ribbon book, and a Book Links Lasting Connection), andlt;iandgt;Firehorseandlt;/iandgt; (which was a andlt;iandgt;Booklistandlt;/iandgt; Top Ten Mystery/Suspense pick and an ALA Amelia Bloomer Project pick), andlt;iandgt;Ravenandlt;/iandgt; andlt;iandgt;Speakandlt;/iandgt;, and andlt;i andgt;Tracksandlt;/iandgt;. She lives in Escondido, California. Visit her online at DianeLeeWilson.com.
Reading Group Guide
A GUIDE FOR READING GROUPS
BLACK STORM COMIN'
By Diane Lee Wilson
ABOUT THE BOOK
Colton Wescott, a twelve-year-old boy traveling west in a wagon train with his white father and black mother and two younger sisters, has his inner strength put to the extreme test when the family is separated from his father and his mother becomes very ill after the birth and death of a new baby. Colton needs to figure out a way to ensure the survival of his family and begins a treacherous job as a Pony Express rider traveling through the mountains to California.
Family life; Growing up; Multiculturalism; Pony Express; Slavery; Identity; Racially mixed people; Self-acceptance; Frontier and frontier life; West ( U. S.) -- History -- nineteenth Century; United States -- History -- 1815-1861; Pre-Civil War
How does Colton's experience as a member of a multiracial family affect his life? How does his repeated use of his ability to "pass" for white affect his self-image?
While the Pony Express isn't in operation today, there are many other challenges we face while growing up. What do you confront in today's world that you see as parallels to the challenges Colton faced?
Colton was not the only character in the story to face hardships. How did other family members (Dad, Ma, Althea, Jewel) react to pressures of the outside world?
Working in groups of two or three, look up Pony Express trails in books or on websites. Have each group work on drawing a map of the route the Pony Express followed.
Make a Pony Express board game with Pony Express riders as the game pieces, including various hazards encountered on the ride. Be creative, and use other board games as models and for ideas for your game.
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Barb Stransky
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/ for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.