"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

ALONE: THE JOURNEY of the BOY SIMS by Alan K. Garinger

Published in 2008 by The Indiana Historical Society Press

In the great state of Indiana 4th grade is the year that the social studies classes focus on Indiana history. My youngest daughter is in 4th grade and her entire class read this book.

The book is set in 1833 and even though it has been a state since 1816, in many ways Indiana is still a wild frontier, especially in northern Indiana (the Ohio River was often the route that settlers took to Indiana in the early days and it forms the southern border of the state). Road crews are working on building Michigan Road - a "road" that will connect the Ohio River to Lake Michigan, a distance of more than 250 miles.

Photo by DWD
While somewhere in the vicinity of what will eventually be Logansport, Indiana a thirteen year old member of the crew is sent to Detroit all by himself for more ink to draw out the maps and keep track of the surveys that the crews were taking. This trip is well more than 200 miles one way and it is already late October...

I found the book to be interesting but loosely constructed. Sometimes the plot generated lots more questions than it answered and the book was desperately in need of lots and lots of maps. The author wanted to make the book a learning experience for Hoosier children but the number of people that Sims meets on his trip and their symbolic (or actual) significance to history got a bit tedious to me. The parade of runaway slaves, slave catchers, soldiers, Indians avoiding the soldiers and even a cameo by Johnny Appleseed (he was a real person) made the story move into the range of impossibility.  If I were rating the book as an adult I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

But, this is not a book aimed at adults and my daughter thought it was very interesting. She would recite any number of things that Joshua Sims encountered on his trip as she rode home from school. She would give it 5 stars out of 5. This is a book that is designed to introduce frontier Indiana to school children and it does that quite well.

So, let's split the difference and call it 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon here:  Alone: The Journey of the Boy Sims

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