cover image Calico and Tin Horns

Calico and Tin Horns

Candace Christiansen. Dial Books, $16 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1179-2

In New York's Hudson River Valley in 1849, Hannah's father and brother join other farmers in a risky gambit to free their crops from a wealthy landowner. Like earlier Boston Tea Party patriots, these men dress in calico costumes to conceal their identity. Hannah, however, is too young to be involved in this derring-do-or so says her mother, until the resourceful youngster essays a critical role. Based on historical episodes, newcomer Christiansen's story is gratifyingly expressive, if a bit slow-moving; but her material perfectly suits Locker's painterly style. His title-page spread of storm clouds over the winding Hudson-the landlord's manor visible on a distant bank-subtly foreshadows the trouble to come, while his tranquil farm studies are warmly handled. The artist's human figures, though occasionally stiffly posed, evidence considerably more naturalism than those in his earlier works, and the theatrically rendered action scenes here burst with energy. A carefully researched text and sweeping artwork combine to lift the curtain on an all-but-forgotten 19th-century drama. All ages. (Sept.)