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Dear America: Behind The Masks Hardcover – January 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: Dear America
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545304377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545304375
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Patron returns to the locale of her Newbery-winning The Higher Power of Lucky (2006) in this Dear America series title set in Bodie, California, in 1880. Fourteen-year-old diarist and would-be dramatist Angeline Reddy does not believe her father, criminal lawyer Patrick Reddy, has been murdered. Convinced his disappearance is purposeful, Angie investigates his “demise” and tries to bring him back to their rough-and-tumble mining community. Assisted by friends, a dashing young Wells Fargo clerk, and the members of a local theater troupe, the witty and insouciant Angie offers a revealing look at frontier life—especially preoccupations with thespian entertainments, racial and social prejudices, and vigilante justice. This complex novel, featuring multidimensional characters, is related in formal Victorian prose; Patron’s style affects the tone of a comedic mystery/melodrama, well suited to the story’s theme that people often hide their true selves (both good and bad) behind disguises. Appended with historical notes, period photos, and directions for making masks, this should appeal to fans of Sid Fleischman’s Mr. Mysterious and Company (1962). Grades 4-8. --Kay Weisman


"More than a supplement to classroom textbooks, this series is an imaginative, solid entree into American history." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"An impressive series that will challenge students to make connections from prominent historical events to relevant life situations. . . . A wonderful asset to the classroom as well as to home libraries." -- CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW SERVICE

"Engaging accessible historical fiction." -- SLJ

"The Dear America diaries represent the best of historical fiction for any age." -- CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am not always a big fan of the Dear America series, because I find some of them boring but when I read the summary I had to get this book, and it was well worth the money I could not put it down because it was such a great book. I wish all the Dear America books were as well written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on January 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Newbery-award winner Susan Patron turns to the Wild West in the newest entry in the re-launch of Scholastic's popular Dear America series. Set in the frontier town of Bodie, California, at the height of its Gold Rush boom, this novel introduces us to plucky fourteen-year-old Angeline, who doesn't believe that her father, the town's criminal lawyer, has been murdered. In fact, she's willing to sneak into the town's funeral home to take a peek in the casket just to prove it's not him. When her hunch proves right, she's the one who has to investigate the mystery this book revolves around: just where is her Papa?

But it's not easy to get to the truth in this practically lawless gold rush town; Angeline is just plain "weary of the recklessness and danger of Bodie," a settlement filled with Chinese immigrants, saloons, brothels, miners, vigilantes, and a troupe of actors known as the "Horribles." In order to find her father, she get some help from several friends, Ellie and Ling Loi, an American-born Chinese girl, Ling Loi, who's been raised in a brothel by the proverbial prostitutes with a heart of gold. There's a hint of romance, too, between Angeline and an attractive bank-clerk-detective-actor, and even a ghost story revolving around a long-dead child. The story is written in the first-person diary format of the other books in this series, but differs from other Dear America novels that I have read in that I would call it more of a mystery than traditional historical fiction. The author provides plenty of colorful historical details of life in a frontier town, from the awful realities of a trip to the dentist to the petty small-town prejudices and gossip.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SusieBookworm (Susanna P) on March 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was a bit worried that the latest addition to Scholastic's Dear America series would fall to the stereotypes of the "Wild West," but Behind the Masks generally managed, as with the rest of the series, to rise above what is expected. Like the rest of the excellent series, it provides a tale rich in historical detail - albeit this time with a touch of mystery and ghostliness.

Having been a fan of Dear America since early elementary school, I found Behind the Masks to match the historical accuracy of the earlier books, bringing to life the time period and the characters for readers. Being a more discerning reader than I was in elementary school, I also found parts - mostly the mystery ones - to seem a little rushed and confusing. Other than that, however, the author presents a lifelike young voice from the time period. I learned quite a lot about California frontier life, especially its socio-political aspects, from reading this! I also appreciated that Angeline is not the all-perfect character; her "sidekicks" are as every bit as important to the uncovering of the Bodie mystery as is she. Behind the Masks is certainly a welcome and satisfactory addition to the series!

Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
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By Rose Strife on November 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This exactly My description of this book.
I didn't like it. However it had a nice story.
The first few chapters are about our main character Angeline Reddy denying her Father's death.
At first I just though this was the grief stage she was going through. I thought in the next few entries
she'd start believing it and the story would go on.
She looks in one of the coffins at the Coffin store and thinks "Oh, my dads not in here. He's alive!"
Which is really stupid. What if his body was still getting prepped?
Then She started telling her Mother her Father wasn't actually dead. Which I assumed the Mother would then
assure her he was and to get over this little fantasy.
Her mother AGREES with her (Can you believe it?) and neither of them go to the Funeral.
I couldn't believe that.
Then she gets a friend and stops talking about her dad being dead for a little while.
Then of course her friend has this ghost. Really... A ghost?
I mean if it was in a dream that would be cool.
But this is real life.
Anyway the ghost is her friend "Ellie's sister
The way she dies is really stupid.
Her father was thinking about food and "Forgot" about her sister.
Really? Really?
That poor baby died because he was thinking about food.
THEN he shoots Angelia's father on purpose.
Anyway they have the ball and the former prostitute (She's probably the coolest person there)
Magically knows who robbed her.
I get the "They were wearing my ring" part
But WHY why would you wear a stolen ring?
This story has a lot of holes in it.
~Spoilers over!!~
This book is meh.
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More About the Author

Susan Patron specialized in Children's Services for 35 years at the Los Angeles Public Library before retiring in 2007, the same year her novel The Higher Power of Lucky was awarded the John Newbery Medal. As the library's Juvenile Materials Collection Development Manager, she trained and mentored children's librarians in 72 branches. Patron has served on many book award committees, including the Caldecott and Laura Ingalls Wilder Committees of the American Library Association. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Lucky Breaks, the second novel in the "Lucky's Hard Pan" trilogy, was published in March 2009.

The Listening Library audio edition of The Higher Power of Lucky is an ALA Notable Recording; the book was translated into twelve foreign languages and has been optioned for a motion picture.

Patron's previous books for children include the Billy Que trilogy of picture books; Dark Cloud Strong Breeze; and a chapter book, Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe. All earned starred reviews, and the latter was named an ALA Notable book.

Married to a rare book restorer from the Champagne region of France, Susan is working on the final book in the trilogy.

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