HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: A Paradise Called Texas
Author: Janice Jordan Shefelman
Illustrators: Tom, Karl, and Dan Shefelman
Publisher: Wild Horse Media Group, republished 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1940130651 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1940130654 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0890155066 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0890155062 Paperback
Language level: 1
(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 9 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: Historical fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Shefelman,Janice Jordan. A Paradise Called Texas (Published in 1983 by Eakin Press, an imprint of Sunbelt Media Inc.; republished in 1985 by Harcourt Brace and Company, Orlando, FL). It is 1845, and ten year old Johanne Ernestine Wilhelmine Jordan, called Mina for short, lives with her parents, Ernst and Minchen, her father’s older brother Christian, his wife Sophia, their children Christine and Hans, and their Opa in Wehrstedt, Germany. However, her Papa decides to leave their German fatherland and take Mama and Mina aboard the brig Margaretha bound for Texas to search for a better life. They had been told it was the paradise of North America, but when Mina steps onto the desolate beach at Indian Point on a cold December day, she wants to go back to Germany and Opa’s cozy house. But go on they must.
In spite of Mama’s tragic death, Mina and Papa push inland with the Kaufmann family to the Texas Hill Country. There Mina encounters an Indian chief and his young daughter, Amaya, Then Papa falls ill. Will he die too? Can the Indians do anything to help him? Or do they attack? Author Janice Jordan Shefelman based the book on her own German ancestors’ immigration to Texas. It tells of a journey into the wilderness that is filled with hardship, tragedy and adventure, giving young readers a fascinating glimpse of what life in early Texas was like for German settlers. The characters are interesting and well-developed. A Paradise Called Texas is Book 1 of the “Texas Trilogy.” The other two are Willow Creek Home (1985) and Spirit of Iron (1989).