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Promise the Night Hardcover – January 4, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Unique historical novel about one tenacious girl." - School Library Journal, starred review

"A compelling tale" - Scholastic Parent and Child

"Fascinating novel about a remarkable woman's childhood. ' - VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

"Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction." - Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"Maccoll vividly portrays her headstrong protagonist" - Booklist

"With action and a very plucky heroine, this book will appeal to young women and men alike." - Library Media Connection

About the Author

Michaela MacColl studied multi-disciplinary history at Yale University, which turns out to be the perfect degree for writing historical fiction.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (January 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081187625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811876254
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Danielle M. Smith VINE VOICE on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Galloping into the air much like the horses she later trained, Beryl Clutterbuck Markham was a young women coming of age in a time not prepared for her vivaciousness. Growing up the only daughter of a successful farmer and horse trainer, Beryl turned to the native Nandi people in her East African home to teach her discipline and survival. Every day was an adventure filled with lions, leopards, a "step-mother", a governess and eventually school in the city. Beryl grew from each of her experiences to become a woman revered by many, but her youth was filled with not only skepticism but danger at every turn.

Generally speaking I'm not a huge reader of historical fiction, particularly fictional stories based in reality. What I've loved about book reviewing has been the opportunity to stretch myself and discover something I never knew existed or that I would not normally have given a second glance. Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl was one of those such books. Initially, the thought of a middle grade novel about a young girl growing up in Africa based on the true events of Beryl Clutterbuck Markham's life simply didn't grab me. What I've discovered though is that not only was I wrong, but that I would have missed out greatly on Michaela MacColl's writing had I passed this novel by.

Beryl was a young wild girl and were it not for her father's concern for her future well-being as well as that of the reputation of their family she may have grown up as one of the Nandi she so loved. Her adventures of lion hunting and leaping in the air above her own head were the things most young children only dream & read about. What was fascinating was Beryl's headstrong behavior with nearly everyone she came in contact with.
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Format: Hardcover
This new historical fiction title is inspired by the life of aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West (considered more challenging than flying East because of prevailing winds). Novelist Michaela Maccoll intersperses the story of Beryl's historic 1936 voyage with Beryl's life as a ten-year old growing up in what is now Kenya, where she lived with her English father on a horse ranch, her mother having abandoned them years before. Her life as a child is filled with endless adventures--attacks by leopards, forbidden treks into the forest with a boy from the local tribe, Kibbi, who becomes her friend and teaches her to wrestle and track and hunt animals. Indeed, she is virtually adopted by the native tribe who take her in as one of their own, allowing her to train to be a "warrior" despite her sex and accepting her as an honorary member of the Nandi tribe.

The novel jumps back and forth between the youthful Beryl's adventures both at home and later in boarding school and a variety of diary entries, fictitious press articles and interviews about her cross-Atlantic flight. I found the parts in Africa much more engaging and vivid than the snippets about her flight; the two themes don't really seem to be tied together, since we don't learn about the beginnings of her interests in flight in the sections in which Beryl is a child. However, Maccoll paints an appealing picture of an adventurous spirit who can't resist a dare, a girl who is more comfortable in boys' clothing and who longs to be a hunter of lions rather than a proper young English lady. It's a good choice for those looking for a colorful adventure story that could appeal to girls as well as boys.

Maccoll includes an author's note providing further details on the real Beryl's life as well as additional suggestions for further reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Today's middle schoolers often lack real world role models to challenge their character development. I remember reading my way through shelves of biographies in my school library's biography section. However, my own 10 year-old granddaughter shows no such desire, preferring rather to get lost in fantasies where children, cats, and magic determine the world's fate. Thus, I chose to read this book in hopes of enticing her to dream a little more realistically about her own future.

My conclusion? This author chose an interesting writing style in which to communicate the biography of a woman with a great deal of character and determination. I am looking forward to challenging my granddaughter's character growth and understanding of the world around her with this book during her middle school years.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I bought it for my pre-teen girls and they loved it too. It was wonderful to be able to talk to my girls about the fact that this book was based on a true story. The girls couldn't get over how different of a life the girl in the story had as compared with our own experiences. It really opened up that sense of wonder for them and I loved seeing that in them. The story really captivated me as well as the kids.
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Format: Hardcover
In the early 1900s a girl named Beryl Clutterbuck was growing up on a ranch in what was then British East Africa. With a mother who had returned to England when she was a baby and a father who had little time to spend on raising her, Beryl grew up wild and as resistant to taming as the land around her. Her best friend was a native boy, Kibii, and she wanted to train to be a Nandi warrior.

Beryl's fierce sense of daring and adventure never left her, and she later went on to be Beryl Markham, the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. Promise the Night is a new work of historical fiction by Michaela MacColl that weaves real life incidents from Beryl's pre-teen years with rich details of African life. The result is a fascinating portrait of a girl who is courageous, independent, unconventional, and not always likeable.

Promise the Night also paints a vivid picture of Africa during those times. White settlers came for the vast tracts of land they could buy for farming, ranching and other pursuits. Inevitably, there were conflicts with black natives who were looked down on for what were considered primitive ways.

Tales of lion hunts, leopard attacks, encounters with baboons and horse races are thrilling to read about, and don't be surprised if you find yourself alternately cheering for Beryl and appalled by her sometimes bristly nature. Promise the Night brings a part of her childhood to life while also interspersing notes from her solo trip across the Atlantic.

I first learned about Beryl Markham when I read her memoir, West With the Night. While I really like that book a lot, it's not accessible for younger readers. Promise the Night fills in that gap and introduces younger readers to this remarkable woman. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 13. I also believe boys will like this book equally as well as girls.
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