From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7–Howard's poor judgment has gotten him in trouble before, but refusing to accompany his older brother home has meant sleeping with mules for warmth all winter and fighting dogs for scraps of food. The promised position as a kitchen boy at an inn in Birchport, NY, has been snatched by a rival, and Howard's usual job as a hoggee (driving mules that pull Erie Canal boats) won't begin until water is allowed back in the canal in the spring. Starved and miserable as he is, he can't help wondering what is wrong with one of three granddaughters of a man who has befriended him. When Howard discovers that Sarah is a deaf mute, he vows to help her even though he doesn't know how. Adult characters often form hard opinions and quickly change them to service the plot. However, Howard and Sarah are well drawn and winsome while Jack, who alternately prods and champions his younger brother, is appealing. When Howard discovers sign language and his natural teaching ability, readers become fully invested in his story and will definitely be rooting for him. An interesting pairing would be Clara Gillow Clark's Nellie Bishop
(Boyds Mills, 2003), which is also about battling poverty in a canal town, but viewed through a girl's struggle.–Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
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About the Author
Anna Myers has authored numerous books for Walker & Company, including Flying Blind, of which Booklist said, “The characters don’t disappoint, and there’s plenty of action to drive the plot. . . . A lively read.” Her Tulsa Burning and When the Bough Breaks were both selected as New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age; she is a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for Children’s Books; and she has garnered numerous other awards for her work. Anna lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.