on June 11, 2016
I am a middle school English teacher, and I was looking for a book to tie into a social studies unit on Westward Expansion. This exciting adventure of historical fiction a great fit in my classroom as the teenage protagonist overcomes physical hardships and social stigma for the sake of his family. I wish there were fewer uses of "comin" or kinda" and other non-standard words, but since the story itself is quite engaging, my students and I just overlook this pesky irritant.
on October 11, 2005
Like all of Diane Lee Wilson's books, we get some excellent historical background to a great story. Her characters are always interesting and nuanced, not the stock character so often found in young adult fiction. Her stories are set in interesting times and we always learn something we didn't know. In Black Storm Comin, we get an insiders look not only into the Pony Express but also the challenges faced by the bi-racial rider. And the horses! Wilson can write about horses like no one else - she's taking over where Marguite Henry left off. This is a great read and I look forward to her next one. I recommend it for any reader, young or old, male or female.
on June 28, 2005
Based on Wilson's research about the pony express, this story is filled with fascinating facts and tidbits about the old west. But what is so delightful is the intensity of the story, excellent horsemanship, and relationship of a small boy and his horse. It kept me on the edge the whole time. The young protagonist is also bi-racial, adding an interesting twist and subtheme to the entire story. I learned much about the pony express and its riders, as well as the challenges of being bi-racial in early America.
on October 31, 2005
I'm not usually a fan of westerns. I don't get that whole prairie, horse, dirt thing that many find appealing.
But this story is not a typical western.
It's the story of a 12 year old boy and his family - a 12 year old who's forced to take responsibility for his family (an occurrance common enough in the past).
There's a lot of historical information and environmental vibes packed into this book - it fairly places you in the shoes of a biracial child who, quite guiltily, can pass for white in a time right before the civil war. It gives you an insight into the Pony Express - a wonderful group of kids who kept the country connected and informed.
In all, this is a good read, especially for young boys, which will open the mind and the heart.
on June 22, 2007
A 12-year-old boy, Colton, tries to get a job with the Pony Express in this unusual "western". There are no Indians in the story, but race plays a part with the hero as a son of a white man and a free black woman, but who can pass for white. The family is moving west with a wagon train but is beset by the troubles of the trail--no doctors, difficult childbirth, broken wagon wheels, lack of food. A gun accident while in Nevada precipitates it all: the depressive father accidentally shoots the son in the leg, then takes off in apparent remorse, leaving the family to fend for itself. Racism is a theme of the story, but it is also about a boy's doggedness and the importance of cross-country communication on the eve of the Civil War. The prose is easy, in a colloquial style. Those who like horse stories and action-adventure will appreciate this one. I could hardly put this book down, and despite having to go to work I finished it in less than 24 hours. This book is heartily recommended, and should appeal especially to middle schoolers studying the pre-Civil War era as well as to horse enthusiasts, male or female. It would work well as a read-aloud for middle school, since the audience will be anxious to know how it turns out. It is devoid of love interests, but despite that it should serve a high school audience well, too.
on August 31, 2015
Great book for kids and adults who like a fictionalized history story. Right amount of descriptions, setting, drama, and resolution. Really makes that time in history come alive with all its realities of prejudice, trauma, heart-break, and triumph.
on May 1, 2012
The Black Storm Comin', by Diane Lee Wilson, is a tale about the aptly named Colton Westcott and his quest to provide for his colored mother and two sisters after his father left them after an accident on their way to California. With his ma sick, and no signs of his pa coming back for them, Colton is forced to veer off course and stop in Dayton until his ma is better, and they have enough supplies to continue. While looking for odd jobs around the town one day, Colton spots a poster for the Pony Express that reads, "WANTED. YOUNG, SKINNY, WIRY FELLOWS NOT OVER EIGHTEEN. MUST BE EXPERT RIDERS. WILLING TO RISK DEATH DAILY. ORPHANS PREFERRED." The job seemed perfect for a young man who thought he had nothing left to loose, so Colton ripped the poster down and prepared to leave for the location put on the poster, Carson City. His sisters, however, weren't quite as eager as he was about the job. Eventually he convinced them that he had an important favor to his ma that the job would help him fulfill this, and snuck off to Carson City that night.
After buying a horse and practically jumping through hoops to impress the man running the Pony Express office, Colton was given the job, and set off later that day. The path he rode was one of the hardest in the express; it took him on a trail winding through freezing mountains and down steep, narrow paths. But after a day of riding, he makes it to his destination.
The Black Storm Comin' is a good view of the time period it's set in, with interesting characters, and an a story that will keep you reading until the end. The book gives its readers an insight on how the Pony Express functioned as well, with details about the stations and changing horses. It also shows the importance California had in helping the North stop slavery, and how crucial it was that the Pony Express delivers information to them.
Although the language it pretty light, I wouldn't recommend the book to kids under the age of seven due to later references to hangings and slavery, but otherwise it's a good read, and a nice example of what went on in that era.
on March 2, 2007
In my book, Black Storm Comin`, Colton, the twelve-year-old boy who is the main character, is very responsible and knows everything he needs to know to travel by himself and knows how be a man. One example of that is that Colton has to work with his dad every day. Colton has to wake up at 6:00 a.m. in the morning he doesn't stop working until 8:00 p.m. And he has been doing that for 5 years straight. Another example of that is that he has good manners. Colton calls a lady ma'am and a man sir, he is really polite and he says please and thanks you. Colton also became the man of the family. After pa left after shooting Colton accidentally at the leg while he was asleep, Colton had to stand up and was forced to take responsibility for his whole family and he was doing everything. Colton helplessly needed a job so, he thought he could get a job at the Pony Express because it would cover up the pay and it would take him and his entire family to Sacramento, California that everyone needed to go there and he got the job. At the middle of the story Colton's ma gave Colton a letter to give to her half sister, then at the end of the story, Colton gave it to the half sister, but then ended u running for their lives meaning his pa and himself. Colton was the perfect kid at his time as I have already told you how.
on May 28, 2010
I stayed awake literally all night reading this book. The description is vivid, the subject matter fascinating, and the writing excellent. I highly enjoyed every moment spent reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone. It's also definitely not just for schoolkids - I'm in my 20s and found it very worthy of praise.
on March 27, 2014
Exciting story of the Pony Express and the sacrifices and efforts of getting the mail through during the 1800's. Excellent book for young readers.