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Monday, October 20, 2008

Andrea Carter and the San Francisco Smugglers by Susan K. Marlow

About the Novel

When a winter flood submerges the streets of Fresno, the town has no choice but to close the school for repairs. Andi couldn't be happier. She plans to spend her unexpected holiday out on the range with her palomino mare, Taffy. But Andi's dreams are dashed when she's sent to San Francisco—doomed to spend the rest of the winter at Miss Whitaker's Academy for Young Ladies.

Andi doesn't know how she'll endure two months of city life until she's introduced to her new roommate, the untamable Jenny. She also meets Lin Mei, a small, mistreated servant girl who works at the school. When Andi and Jenny discover a dreadful secret that endangers Lin Mei, they rush to her rescue, only to find themselves trapped in the dark alleys of Chinatown.

Can the girls outwit their captors and escape a terrible fate?

About the Author

Susan K. Marlow, like Andi, sometimes finds herself in bizarre situations—usually while trying to help others. Susan is a freelance editor, teacher, and homeschooling mom. In addition to writing her Circle C Adventures series for tweens, she speaks at young author conference and teaches writing workshops for kids. She and her family make their home in Washington State. Visit Susan's Web site at

My Review

I've always loved juvenile fiction and have several bookshelves crammed with favorite Hardy Boys and Sugar Creek Gang novels. So when I met fellow Kregel author Susan Marlow and learned that book four in her Circle C Adventures series was about to come out, I was eager to get my hands on a copy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading book four. Even though I hadn't read the first three novels in the series, I quickly found myself engrossed in Andi's escapades.

What kid wouldn't relate to Andi's excitement to learn that school is closed and then her disappointment to learn that she'll be attending an "Academy for Young Ladies" instead? Spunky Andi, who could benefit from a few rules in etiquette, is more comfortable riding the range on her palomino and doesn't exactly warm up to the idea; but she quickly realizes that she has no choice. Her worst fears come true, particularly manifested in the prickly and severe Miss Whitaker, and Andi wishes she had stayed home. But God clearly has a reason for her being at the academy, and those reasons factor into an exciting plot sure to win over young readers.

Andi makes a new friend in her roommate Jenny, and most importantly she meets Chinese servant Lin Mei, whom Andi learns is actually a slave. When Andi learns that Lin Mei is to be sold and will have to leave the academy, she does what she can to thwart the sinister plan, resulting in an action-packed and satisfying tale featuring several escapes and rescues. I had never heard about childhood slavery in that era before and found the plot element fresh and engaging. The Historical Note at the end of the novel was particularly informative.

San Francisco Smugglers was a refreshing change of pace for me. The novel is an enjoyable, wholesome story I'm happy to recommend. When Andi and her friends find themselves trapped in a dark warehouse with the prospect of being shanghaied in the morning, Andi reminds them that God is with them and will help them through her predicament. It's a pleasure reading an entertaining novel that also provides a spiritual challenge for young readers through Andi's example.

To receive more information about the novel or to purchase a copy, please go here.

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