Friday, November 19, 2010

Midnight Rider by Joan Hiatt Harlow

It’s Battle of the Books Friday. Today’s title is another book recommended for the 2010 – 2011 Pikes Peak Region Battle List.

After 14 year-old Hannah’s parents die in a pox epidemic, her cruel Aunt Phoebe sells Hannah’s horse and contracts Hannah out as an indentured servant to General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Massachusetts.  Set on the eve of the American revolution, the story chronicles Hannah’s story as she struggles with her affection for some members of the Gage household while longing for her own freedom as well as freedom for the colonists.  A neighbor brings the horse, Promise, to Boston where Hannah is able to sneak out of the Gage household, dressed as a boy and ride her beloved horse.  During her midnight rides, Hannah takes to harassing British soldiers and eventually becomes involved in the rebel cause.  Near the end of the book she rides on a dangerous mission to warn the villagers of Salem that the British will be confiscating their munitions.

Many historical figures, including Paul Revere, appear in this action-paced story.  It has the potential to grip the reader and take them on a wild ride, yet falls short of doing so.  A story about such a volatile time in American history should keep the reader on the edge of their seat.  Somehow the tension of the historical time recounted in the story does not quite come across.  It’s an ok, story but if the idea of Battle of the Books is to have students read quality children’s literature there are surely many books other than Midnight Rider, that would be bettered suited for the list.

Recommended for Grade 5- 8th.

Mrs. Archer’s Rating 3 of 5.


  1. Your review of this book reminds me of Betsy Dowdy's Ride, which has a NC setting. It's been so long since I've read it that I can't say whether it's "quality" literature, but it's a good, exciting read.

  2. The "powers that be" always say that the point of Battle of the Books is to get kids to read quality literature that they might not otherwise read. I think the goal should be to just get kids to read. This book wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. I most likely would not have finished it if it had not been recommended for the list. Truth be told I would not have even started reading it, had not been recommended. At least it IS a kids book and not some authors idea of what a kid should read. You know how I feel about Newbery Committees who think that just because a book is supposedly written for kids it's a kids book.

    Mrs. Archer

  3. Hi can anybody tell me a short sentence about each chapter up to about ... chapter 16 I guess so then I will know if I would like to read it to see if my students would like the book?
    Please get back to me as soon as possible and Thank You

  4. I'm sorry. I'm unable to help you on this. This was a book I borrowed for the public library several months ago. If you are considering having your students read it, you really should read it for yourself, at least enough chapters to give you a true feel for the book and whether or not it would be a good read for them.