From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5?A lyrical account of 15-year-old Kate Shelley's feat of averting a major train disaster during a tremendous storm on the night of July 6, 1881. Based on scholarly research, as well as on Kate and her younger sister's own commentary, the story helps readers to feel the tension building to a crescendo, mirroring the fury of the storm, as Kate realizes what she must do to stop the midnight express from flying off the destroyed Honey Creek Bridge. The young woman battles not only the ferocious elements and the clock as she makes her way across the railroad ties of the Des Moines River Bridge to Moingona Station, but also her personal fears. Kate's story has been told adequately in Margaret Wetterer's Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express (Carolrhoda, 1990), but San Souci's version better captures the drama, as it also gives life to the characters, particularly Kate and her widowed mother. The excitement is enhanced by the luminous oil paintings, as each page evokes an emotional response to Kate's predicament and difficult choices. Ginsburg's illustrations of the night scenes are superb. The image of Kate, halfway across the bridge and threatened by an uprooted tree swept along in the angry water, is illuminated simply by a bolt of lightening splitting the dark sky. This powerful painting emphasizes the magnitude of the heroine's struggle and the enormity of her accomplishment.?Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. In this picture book for older readers, San Souci reconstructs a slice of history. After the railroad bridge near her home collapsed during a summer storm in 1881, 15-year-old Kate Shelley walked to the nearest railroad station to make sure the passenger train from Chicago would be stopped before it reached the broken bridge. To get to the station, she had to crawl across a 700-foot-long railroad bridge, with a raging river below. The train had been stopped by railroad officials before she arrived, but her courageous efforts still saved two lives and won her a national reputation. Along with dramatic descriptions, San Souci presents a convincing portrait of Kate's personality, depicting her as a strong, supportive part of her family long before that summer's night. Ginsburg's realistic oil paintings of the storm and the bridge crossing are particularly effective. Mary Harris Veeder