Calamity Jane at Fort Sanders: A Historical Novel

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HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Calamity Jane at Fort Sanders: A Historical Novel

Authors: Justine Korman and Ron Fontes

Illustrator: Charlie Shaw

Publisher: Disney Press, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-1562822651 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1562822659 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1562822644 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1562822640 Paperback

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 8 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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Korman Justine and Fontes, RonCalamity Jane at Fort Sanders: A Historical Novel (published in 1992 by Disney Press, 114 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10011).  It is 1873, and in Piedmont, Wyoming Territory, a 21 year old orphan girl, Martha Jane Cannary, who had been born in Princeton, MO, and whose parents died when she was fifteen, is driving a stagecoach for the Overland Express.  However, Mrs. Eulalia Beecroft, the mayor’s wife, announces that Martha Jane is no longer employed by the stage company, and Sheriff Callahan, Eulalia’s brother-in-law, has a court order for the young woman to leave town.  After riding on her big black horse Jim for several days, she comes to a cavalry outpost called Ft. Sanders on the Laramie River.  She decides to dress like a boy, call herself Missouri Jim, and become an army scout.

Everything seems to be going well until the fort’s commander, Captain Egan, leads the troops to look for some Dakota Sioux Indians who had gone off the reservation and crossed a local farmer’s field.  A fight ensues, and the captain is captured.  As scout, “Missouri Jim” must go ahead to find the Indian camp and locate Egan.  Is there anything that she might do to rescue him?  Or will she herself be captured?  And can she still keep her identity a secret?  Martha Jane Cannary (1852-1903), better known as “Calamity Jane,” was a real person.  Though clearly fictional, the book is apparently based on one of the stories that she told to explain her famous nickname.  Her dialogue in the novel uses the euphemistic “darn” a lot, and there are a couple of references to “cussing,” but no actual curse words appear.

The plot does give ample room for the usual political correctness about feminism and the mistreatment of Native Americans.  However, it will appeal to youngsters who enjoy exciting tales of adventure and have an interest in reading about the “wild, wild West,” giving a good look at life in an old Western town and on a nineteenth century army post.  Calamity Jane at Fort Sanders is Book 8 of the “Disney’s American Frontier Series.”  The previous volumes include five about Davy Crockett and one each on Johnny Appleseed and Sacjawea.  Since then, four more have been issued, namely Annie Oakley in the Wild West Extravaganza, Wild Bill Hickok and the Rebel Raiders, Tecumseh: One Nation for His People, and Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express.

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