Gregory, Kristiana. Orphan Runaways. Scholastic, 1998. ISBN 0-590-60366-3. $15.95. 151 pp.” 3+ NF Reviewed by Kathe C. Homer Gregory has produced another sharp look at a specific time and place in American history. The time is 1878. Two boys are left orphans in San Francisco when both of their parents die in an epidemic. The boys run away from the terrible orphanage and manage to get to their uncle's place-a gold rush boomtown called Bodie Camp, high in the hills almost to the Nevada border. When twelve-year-old Danny finds that his uncle loves a Chinese woman, he refuses to have anything to do with either of them, and instead roams around with the other orphans in Bodie. Only when they faced a life-threatening problem do the boys realize which way their future lies. As in The Legend of Jimmy Spoon and Earthquake at Dawn, Gregory has taken a small piece of history and, using both fact and fiction, brought it to life for today's young readers. This is an exciting, adventurous story about life in the boomtowns of the gold rush days. The characters are very real, and the reader is pulled in to care about what happens to them-from the fictitious orphaned boys and the lovely Chinese woman, to the very real Madame Mustache (Eleanor Dumont) and “Captain” Billy O'Hara, a black man who became the foster father of Bodie. There is a lot of excitement and history to learn about in these few pages.
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