Monday, December 10, 2012

MMGM NW Authors: Pebblehoof by Jason Black

About The Book: Maria Browning never asked to be dragged from Chicago into the untamed Nebraska Territory to help her parents find their dream of freedom on the frontier. But when she meets and befriends a wild horse, the prairie begins to grow on her. The spring of 1863 takes a turn for the better when the family learns that the Transcontinental Railroad will be coming through the nearby town of Columbus. But their excitement quickly sours when the railroad boss unexpectedly changes the planned route to run rails directly through the family’s land. Maria’s hardheaded father clashes with the railroad man and his underhanded tricks. Caught in the middle, Maria’s mother suffers a terrible injury, and the family’s crops are destroyed. Faced with returning to Chicago, Maria finds she cannot bear to leave behind her beloved horse and the prairie she has come to call home. Her only question is, can a ten-year-old girl defy the most powerful man in the territory and move a railroad, to save her home and her parents’ dream? —Amazon

First Line: "Mama must I?" Maria Browning asked.

What Others Are Saying: "Not just for girls! The unrelenting pace of the story, driven by the challenges of life in the 1860s, will also captivate boys. I was actually sorry to see the book end. Definitely a good read for adults as well as middle grades and up. Caution for parents: the book includes a couple of swear words (which I plan to omit when reading to kids.) Nathan Everett's graphics at chapter beginnings and between scenes add to the ambiance, and I appreciated the Author's Notes at the end about the real places and people in the story." —Norma Nill on Amazon

"There's tension, conflict and villains drawn from the historical figures of the time. As children read the story, they will be learning without even noticing about such things as what homesteads were, soap making, and what everyday life was like. They may also learn some German! The author clearly respects children, providing them with this intelligent and compelling story." —AMB on Amazon

What I Thought: From the first page I was drawn into Maria's new life on the prairie. It has been a very long time since I have had a historical fiction resonate with me in the same way that Laura Ingalls Wilder books did. I have never forgotten the descriptions of everyday tasks in Laura's world, the pig bladder, cutting sod and planting vegetables. When Black told about Maria making soap with her mother, I found myself transported again to a time before supermarkets, details so vivid I could almost smell the lye. That said, I think the underlying theme is about finding where you belong in a new place. Maria is taken from everything she knows, but finds a new friend and ultimately home.  

About The Author: Jason Black
Guest Post on Seekerville
Radio Interview

Who: I met Jason two years ago at my first PNWA writers conference. I took one of his classes and now I'm a religious reader of his articles on Author Magazine. His most recent article "Let Your Characters Speak For Your Readers" is an excellent look at how important it is to avoid making a mystery seem like a mistake. Black writes,"Readers will follow you pretty much anywhere, so long as they trust you to know what you’re doing." 

"My name is Jason Black. I was born between Apollo 11 and the breakup of The Beatles. I live in Washington State, in a suburb outside of Seattle, with my wife and two young children whose future college educations I'm hoping you’ll help me pay for. I'm a computer geek, a local-food enthusiast, occasional gardener, ardent PNWA supporter, monthly contributor to PNWA's Author Magazine, and die-hard NaNoWriMo participant." —Black on Plot to Punctuation

Join the other MMGM reviewers, they have some great books, too! You can find links in my sidebar.

Coming soon: Kathleen Schlick Noe's, author of Something To Hold interview and book giveaway.

Another NW author review of Heather Vogel Frederick's Once Upon a Toad.


  1. Thank you! What a lovely review, and a great way to start my week. :)

  2. Thanks Pam and Jason. I admit that I don't read much historical fiction and I'm not generally drawn to horse stories. I'm not sure why. When I was young my friends were into horses, never me.

    However, this sounds much bigger than a horse story and I, too, have enjoyed Jason's articles in Author Magazine. :-) And I'm happy to support a fellow PNWer, so onto the reading list it goes!



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