Some Kind of Courage

Written by Dan Gemeinhart

Joseph Johnson has lost his father, mother, and sister to sickness and accident. The boy’s only family left on Earth is his beloved horse Sarah. When she is wrongfully sold behind his back to a shady horse trader, Joseph sets off on a desperate trek across the frontier towns and rough wilderness of 1890s Washington to reclaim her.

Gripping from the opening scene and moving at a galloping pace, this is a classic Western of a determined boy on an emotional, high stakes adventure. The character of Joseph is notable not only for his tenacity but for his moral goodness, as he battles to conduct himself according to standards of honesty and charity instilled in him by his parents, going out of his way to help people despite rough circumstances and the pull of his mission. The book sets itself apart from many traditional Westerns with its positive recognition of the diversity of the 19th century Western United States, particularly shown through Joseph’s relationship with Ah-Kee, a Chinese-American character who is his companion and friend through most of the adventure. I feel it needs mentioning that other reviewers have found that the depiction of Native American characters in the story problematic and partially reliant upon longstanding stereotypes. Partly because of this issue I don’t rate this title with the full 5 stars, but because of so many other positives I still highly recommend this book for fans of great adventure stories with heart.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Library Specialist, Granite EdTech Dept.
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4 and Up

Some Kind of Courage
Written by Dan Gemeinhart
Scholastic Inc.
234 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2016
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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8 thoughts on “Some Kind of Courage”

  1. Give-away alert! We have two copies of this book to give to a library, teacher/classroom, or student in Granite School District. Leave a comment below if you’d like a chance to win one of them. Drawing from comments posted will be held on 3/9/2017. Thanks for looking!

  2. That sounds like a good book. Do you think that some students would have an issue with the stereotypes that are in the book? But I would still love to read it. Thanks for the review.

    1. Nanette,

      I don’t think it would offend anyone or cause issues. I just think you can’t really count this book as an authentic book about Native American characters or culture in your library. So rather than avoiding this book because it is a really good book in so many ways, we should go out of our way to also find and add to our collections other books about Native American characters and books written by native authors. I think they are underrepresented and underserved in the marketplace and in our collections, and this particular book, although it has some native characters, doesn’t really change that or address that lack.

  3. It’s a bit late, but congratulations to Heidi Reed and Nanette Warr, who won this drawing. A copy of this book will be coming to you through district mail. Thanks for looking!

  4. My friend borrowed this book and loved it. I’ll be interested to see how it checks out, as similar books have not circulated very well in our library. I’m planning to read it over the summer and hope to promote it in the fall.

    Thanks for the review!

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