Synopses & Reviews
THE FIRST BOOK IN A HISTORICAL SERIES THAT'S PERFECT FOR FANS OF THE BOXCAR CHILDREN!
Jack, Frances, and Francess younger brother Harold have been ripped from the world they knew in New York and sent to Kansas on an orphan train at the turn of the century. As the train chugs closer and closer to its destination, the children begin to hear terrible rumors about the lives that await them. And so they decide to change their fate the only way they know how. . . .
They jump off the train.
There, in the middle of the woods, they meet a boy who will transform their lives forever. His name is Alexander, and he tells them they've come to a place nobody knows aboutespecially not adultsand "where all children in need of freedom are accepted." It's a place called Wanderville, Alexander says, and now Jack, Frances, and Harold are its very first citizens.
"First in a historical-fiction series, McClure's book is inspired by the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eleven-year-old Frances and her seven-year-old brother, Harold, meet up with 11-year-old Jack on a train bound from New York City to Kansas; fearing the worst for what lies ahead, they decide to jump off the train. Lost in the Kansas wilderness, they meet another young New Yorker, Alexander, himself escaped from the cruel conditions of a working ranch, and they become the first citizens of Wanderville, a 'town' in the woods that he is creating for runaways. Author/editor McClure (The Wilder Life) celebrates bravery, ingenuity, and the bonds of family and friendship in this old-fashioned story of children fending for themselves, building a community, and eluding the adults who seek them. Close calls maintain suspense, but most of the characters including the four children lack full development; certain adults, such as the cruel ranch owners, are little more than stereotypes. Still, readers should enjoy vicariously participating in the children's independence and will appreciate their hard-earned triumphs. Ages 8 12. Agent: Sarah Burnes the Gernert Company. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
". . . it's clear P.K. has what today we would call Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism. Brilliant, touch-averse and reclusive, he 'cannot express emotions easily. Nor read them neither.' But he is endowed with 'keen observation skills' and an excellent memory. The autism conceit also reveals Lawrence's influences, most notably, Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . . . P.K.'s journey is very much a metaphor for an autistic experience. Lawrence powerfully conveys both the difficulties of living with autism and the autistic mind's distinctive strengths. Any child who's felt like a 'Misfit' or 'Freak of Nature' as P.K. does will identify with his despair and cheer him."
“This fast-paced and deadpan-funny Wild West adventure is Pinky’s first-person account, scrawled out as “last words” on ledger sheets in a mine shaft while three desperados hunt him down …Wonderfully dry humor, vivid sensory descriptions of the mountain town and a genuinely appealing protagonist make this a stand-out. A rich vein of wisdom runs through this highly entertaining, swashbuckling series debut.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A winning blend of Wild West and classic detective lore, this first book in the Western Mysteries series is a fast-paced, engrossing read, from beginning to end. P. K. is a wonderfully drawn, engaging protagonist—half Sioux, half white, and a self-proclaimed “misfit”—who has difficulty reading others and expressing emotion. But he also has gifts, like exceptional memory, keen observational powers, and resourcefulness. His vernacular, colloquial first-person account vividly brings characters to life …Both settings and events—including exciting, occasionally gory, confrontations—are filled with droll touches and period details, and there’s the occasional poignant moment.”—Booklist, starred review
"A thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced adventure." --Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B.
“… A page-turner that will have readers eagerly waiting for the next installment. For those who want more background, the book includes a brief explanation of the Orphan Train Movement. Readers may wonder how children can survive on their own. Here, the strong characters make it plausible.” —Booklist “McClure celebrates bravery, ingenuity, and the bonds of family and friendship in this old-fashioned story of children fending for themselves, building a community, and eluding the adults who seek them… Readers should enjoy vicariously participating in the childrens independence and will appreciate their hard-earned triumphs.”—Publishers Weekly “Readers will be swept away by the bravery of the young heroes… Readers of series fiction who enjoy learning about the past will gravitate toward this accessible novel and will be impatient for the sequel.”—School Library Journal "A thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced adventure." —Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B
Praise for PK PINKERTON AND THE DEADLY DESPERADOS:
Amazon Best Book 2012
Kirkus Best Book 2012
Indie Next Pick
Booklist Top 10 Youth Crime Fiction
Booklist Top 10 Youth Western
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:
“Curious, clever, and very funny…P.K.'s journey is very much a metaphor for an autistic experience. Lawrence powerfully conveys both the difficulties of living with autism and the autistic mind's distinctive strengths. Any child who's felt like a 'Misfit' or 'Freak of Nature' as P.K. does will identify with his despair and cheer him.”
STARRED REVIEW FROM BOOKLIST:
“A winning blend of Wild West and classic detective lore, this first book in the Western Mysteries series is a fast-paced, engrossing read, from beginning to end.”
STARRED REVIEW FROM KIRKUS REVIEWS:
“[F]ast-paced and deadpan-funny Wild West adventure … A rich vein of wisdom runs through this highly entertaining, swashbuckling series debut.”
FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
“[E]nergetic, vividly written series opener… this agile story should keep readers attention from first page to last.”
FROM THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDRENS BOOKS:
“Wild chases, wilder disguises, goofy humor, wordplay, a delightfully gruesome end for Whittlin Walt, and a strong hint of episodes to come all provide a passel of good readin.”
FROM HORN BOOK:
“[A] bang-up series starter, …[this] strongly voiced account succeeds as a rousing adventure that promises more action in another installment just around the corner.”
“[Q]uick paced and engaging, moving from one escapade to the next without ever slowing down.”
Introducing P.K. Pinkerton, Master of Disguise
When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run and is forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . . .
Narrated by the incredibly lively Pinky, this thrilling high-speed chase through the Wild West will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
About the Author
Wendy McClure (WendyMcClure.net) is the author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie and several other books for adults and children. She is a senior editor at Albert Whitman and Company, where her recent projects include books in the Boxcar Children series. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and has been a contributor to the New York Times Magazine and This American Life. She lives in Chicago with her husband.