cover image Walking Up a Rainbow

Walking Up a Rainbow

Theodore Taylor. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29435-5

The year is 1851. Susan Carlisle, a feisty 14-year-old who has recently been orphaned, would be well off if it weren't for G. B. Minzter. He has sued to take all she hashouse and moneyto cover a debt her late father incurred. Susan has one year to pay off the $15,000 she owes. She decides to sell her only possession4000 sheepto raise the money. In order to do so she faces a walk from Iowa to California, where hungry gold miners will pay high prices for the sheep. She lies, coaxes and finally persuades a drover to undertake the cross-country sheep-walk. The tale of their journey is colorful and exciting; details of Gold Rush America are accurate, and the frontier idiom is used consistently throughout. One jarring note is the lengthy section where Clay Carmer, the young drover Susan has set her sights on, takes over the narrationan obvious device to distance the reader from the trauma of an attempted rape that occurs here. But in general, the book's lighthearted, gun-toting tone is sustained at the cost of real character development. (12-up)