“This book will appeal to young readers who enjoy adventure, history, and a good yarn”
AFOOT is an adventure story set in the frontier days of the United States. Josh, the main character, starts out in the story as a happy child with a loving family. Tragedy happens when his parents are killed. Josh and his sister Lucinda are left living with Uncle Asa who has no compassion for their circumstances. In fact, Uncle Asa separates the two by sending Lucinda to work elsewhere and Josh is his hired hand on a pig farm.
First Lucinda runs away from her maid work. Then, Josh runs away to find Lucinda. Josh is na´ve and finds being on his own not an easy task for a thirteen-year-old boy. Josh loses all of his money, but must continue looking for his sister. Finding a job for an inexperienced young man proves to be difficult until he meets Rufus, a rough and unsavory man. Rufus is trying to gather a group of men for a trail drive—a turkey drive. Not many experienced men are willing to join this effort, but with finding Lucinda as his goal, Josh signs up as a cook.
Throughout the turkey drive Josh meets some very interesting characters. There is also the ever present fear of Indians who are ready to attack the group of turkey herders. One of Josh’s new friends is Zebulon Smith a frontier man who helped discover the west. Two Indians accompanied Zeb, John Blood and Eagle Screams. This trio turns out to be good friends to Josh. Of course, there are other characters who Josh meets along the way. Most of them are not to be trusted. Ever present on the trip is the mysteriously silent Bill whose identity is clarified at the end of the story.
Through all of the unpleasant circumstances, Josh keeps his word and is a steady member of the group. When opportunity and reasons arise for Josh to leave the crew, he stays steady to his commitments and goals. All along the way his dream of finding his sister keeps his compass pointed to finish the turkey drive. His dreams of finding Lucinda do not always seem attainable, but he never gives up.
All this stubborn single mindedness pays off in the end, when Josh and Lucinda are united. This is a fun story with a flavor of Will Hobbs. Westerns and stories of the frontier and pioneer life for youth are far and few between so this is a welcome story of that genre. This book would appeal to the young reader who enjoys adventure, history, and a good yarn. Children could also see the rewards of having a goal and making sure that the goal is achieved...family is important....when bad things happened it does not means that one gives up...you cannot judge people by their appearance of ethnicity...and good can win in the end.
— Kay Stith, Director, Library Media and Technology,
Unified School District No. 383, Manhattan, KS
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