When we were at the library last week, M was looking through the racks of paperback series books and discovered the American Girls History Mysteries series. She picked out Hoofbeats of Danger by Holly Hughes because of the horse on the cover and asked if we could check it out. I had read a few books from the series several years ago when I was teaching high school history and remembered enjoying them, but I was concerned that the lack of pictures and fairly long chapters would cause M to lose interest.
We checked it out anyway because I know that if she really likes a story she’ll listen no matter the length. And like it she did. We finished it in a few days and now she has asked me to read it again before we return it to the library. We’re also going to find out if any of the other books in the series have horses in them.
The story is set in 1860 and takes place at Red Buttes Station, a relay and home station for the Overland Express, the company who created the Pony Express. Eleven-year-old Annie Dawson is the daughter of the station manager. When her favorite horse, Magpie, appears to be turning wild, Annie suspects the mare has been poisoned and she works hard to prove it so Magpie won’t be put down.
The story is fast-paced and well written. I would recommend it for both horse lovers and mystery lovers. It would be a great jumping off point for learning about the pony express, cross-continental travel, and relations between Native Americans and white settlers. Unfortunately, it appears that this title and the other History Mysteries are out of print but there are numerous used copies available and our library has the complete series.