HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Danger Along the Ohio
Author: Patricia Willis
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, republished in 1999
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Willis, Patricia. Danger Along the Ohio (published in 1997 by Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company, and republished as a Camelot by Avon Books, Inc., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). I seldom rave over anything. I have given really good reviews to certain books. Most of the time I try to give the good points and bad points of a book and tell whether I liked it or not. Some authors I have severely panned because I did not like them at all. Right after coming to St. Louis, MO, we were in the mall to see a movie and afterwards walked around to see what stores were there. We stopped at the B. Dalton Bookstore and, as is my custom, I began looking over the young readers’ shelves just to see what was available. The title of a book caught my eye. It was Danger Along the Ohio. If it were Danger Along the Mississippi or Danger Along the Columbia, I would never have given it a second look, but being a native of Ohio, it piqued my attention. The author’s name, Patricia Willis, meant nothing to me either, and I know nothing about her except that she is also the author of Out of the Storm, but I picked Danger on the Ohio up solely on the basis of the title.
The book was would fall into the category of historical fiction, and that is one of my favorite genres. The blurb on the front page read, “After an Indian raid separates them from their father, can they brave the wilderness alone?” That was enough to get me hooked, so I turned to the description of the book on the back page, which was enough to make me decide that I had to buy and read it. While traveling down the Ohio River in 1793, Amos, Clara, and Jonathan are separated from their father during a brutal Indian attack. The three children are swept down the river, and have to make their way back through the wilderness in the direction of the Marietta settlement, hoping to find their father there. Their plight becomes still more dramaticand dangerouswhen on the way Amos rescues a wounded Indian boy from the river. Though the boy mistrusts them and his condition slows them down, Amos refuses to leave him behind to die. Now more than ever, they begin to wonder if they will ever make it back to their father and to safety. However, you will have to read the book to see what happens. Kirkus Reviews says, “Willis has created a rousing adventure; it will have readers turning the pages and rooting for the spunky Dunn kids all the way.”
I will have to agree that it kept me turning the pages because the action is exciting and it is written in a very readable and interesting style. I do not know anything about the author’s background. The book does not appear to be written from a specifically “Christian” or biblical perspective, but it has absolutely no bad language or immorality in it at all, and it stresses godly virtues such as perseverance, love of family, and tolerance of others. Furthermore, it has all the hallmarks of good historical fiction–accurate depiction of historical (westward movement with settlements in Wheeling, WV, and Marietta, OH), geographical (the Ohio River and surrounding territory), and cultural (both American and Indian) matters. The author mentions the story of Blue Jacket, a white boy in colonial America who was captured and adopted by the Indians, became a Shawnee war chief, and fought with the British against the Americans in the Revolutionary War. She also refers to natural phenomena such as the Carolina parakeet, a bird which inhabited the eastern United States until its disappearance in the late 1800’s. It was so good that it made me want to look for Out of the Storm. I did not see that book in the B. Dalton Bookstore, or any other since then. However, while in the library I did read a synopsis of it in a book list of children’s literature. I do not remember now everything that it said, but the plot did not sound as engaging to me, although it may still be a very good book. But Danger Along the Ohio is one of those books that when I read it I thought that it would make an excellent movie that I would love to see (if done right). And it is one that I would wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend.