Television can give us so much, except the time to think.
-- Bernice Buresh in Los Angeles Times

Young readersElementary readersUpper elementary readers
7 stars

Riding Freedom

AR: 4.5
Lexile: 720
RC: 4.8
by Pam Mu?oz Ryan     Illus. by Brian Selznick
Normal-length Picture Book
Genre: Historical Fiction Biography

Original post — Monday, August 7, 2006
Finalist - Calif. Young Reader Medal
Reading Magic Award(<i>Parenting</i> Magazine 1998)

People felt safe with Charley Parkhurst, legendary stagecoach driver, but they didn't know Charley was actually a girl! Charlotte Parkhurst was a spirited girl raised in an orphanage for boys. But after years of mistreatment, she decides she needs to get away no matter what. So, with some help from Vern the stable master and her only other friend Hayward, she disguises herself as a boy and escapes. She sleeps in the hay loft of the stables in this new town. With hard work and a lot of determination, she becomes one of the most famous drivers on the Atlantic coast. Even still, she sleeps in the stables so the other male drivers won't find out her secret. Later, she is recruited to drive coaches in the new and exciting territory of California. When she gets there, she loses sight in one eye when a wild mustang kicks her. Will she be able to achieve her life-long dream of making enough money to buy herself the home that she's never had?

This story is fiction but it is based on the life of an actual person. I thought the language was pretty plain. I prefer books that use interesting language, but this story moved so fast I didn't mind that much. The book was really easy to read and went by pretty fast. I was able to read it in one day, and I am not a fast reader. Even though I didn't feel like I really got to know the characters' personalities, the story as a whole was pretty interesting. I would suggest it to kids who like historical fiction or horse stories.

(Last modified:08/29/2007)

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