A Charm of Silver

Author: Ferguson, Cameron

Subjects: American History; Girl's Adventure; Silver Mining

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 1641

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 1641S

A Charm of Silver Cover

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader

Set in the thriving mining city of Butte, Montana, in the spring of 1889, and involving its cultures of Irish, Cousin Jacks (people from Cornwall, England), and Chinese, this novel underscores the tensions and cultural interactions of the period and accurately depicts mining methods for its underground action sequences.

Molly Harrington lives with her upper-class, widowed maternal grandmother, Cattie, in a fancy house in the fashionable section of Butte. Molly’s mother has died, and her father, a miner, has broken off all contact. Grandmother has no use for the poorer shanty Irish or any other culture and has given Molly no information about her father. But Molly is now fifteen, and her tension over Grandmother’s strict control is forcing her to break from Cattie and try to find her father. By putting bits of remembered and overheard information together, she determines that her father is a Cousin Jack. During her search, she mixes with the townspeople and learns about them and the mines. She cleverly follows a supply delivery to her father’s mine, where she discovers him stealing silver from an adjoining Cousin Jack tunnel. Even so, she begs for a reconciliation, which he rejects.

Back at Grandmother’s, after hearing that the Cousin Jacks have discovered the theft of their silver, Molly again sneaks into the mines to warn her father to escape with his freedom. Determined, he commands her to stay with him until his business is done, but she flees through the tunnels. Topside, there is news of a coming battle: the Cousin Jacks have accused the Irish miners of stealing their silver. Molly feels that she must now tell what she knows to the Cousin Jacks’ mine superintendent to stop an underground battle. She returns to the mines with his son to find him, but they are too late; the fight is on. They are separated, and Molly is on her own. For a fleeting moment she confronts her father again, and their relationship is forever changed. Events occur rapidly, and with a surprise twist, the battle is defused.

Author Cameron Ferguson deftly mixes history and characterization. His characters’ personalities develop primarily through their reactions to events, and their reactions and conversations drive the plot. Ferguson is a resident of Montana.

“...the plot’s fast-moving excitement will provide enjoyment for readers. Additionally, the portrayal of the conflict between the Irish and Cousin Jack populations in the American West is fascinating, and the lessons on the price of prejudice, ethnic conflict, and racism make the book useful for classroom discussions.” – Booklist

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader

Set in the thriving mining city of Butte, Montana, in the spring of 1889, and involving its cultures of Irish, Cousin Jacks (people from Cornwall, England), and Chinese, this novel underscores the tensions and cultural interactions of the period and accurately depicts mining methods for its underground action sequences.

Molly Harrington lives with her upper-class, widowed maternal grandmother, Cattie, in a fancy house in the fashionable section of Butte. Molly’s mother has died, and her father, a miner, has broken off all contact. Grandmother has no use for the poorer shanty Irish or any other culture and has given Molly no information about her father. But Molly is now fifteen, and her tension over Grandmother’s strict control is forcing her to break from Cattie and try to find her father. By putting bits of remembered and overheard information together, she determines that her father is a Cousin Jack. During her search, she mixes with the townspeople and learns about them and the mines. She cleverly follows a supply delivery to her father’s mine, where she discovers him stealing silver from an adjoining Cousin Jack tunnel. Even so, she begs for a reconciliation, which he rejects.

Back at Grandmother’s, after hearing that the Cousin Jacks have discovered the theft of their silver, Molly again sneaks into the mines to warn her father to escape with his freedom. Determined, he commands her to stay with him until his business is done, but she flees through the tunnels. Topside, there is news of a coming battle: the Cousin Jacks have accused the Irish miners of stealing their silver. Molly feels that she must now tell what she knows to the Cousin Jacks’ mine superintendent to stop an underground battle. She returns to the mines with his son to find him, but they are too late; the fight is on. They are separated, and Molly is on her own. For a fleeting moment she confronts her father again, and their relationship is forever changed. Events occur rapidly, and with a surprise twist, the battle is defused.

Author Cameron Ferguson deftly mixes history and characterization. His characters’ personalities develop primarily through their reactions to events, and their reactions and conversations drive the plot. Ferguson is a resident of Montana.

“...the plot’s fast-moving excitement will provide enjoyment for readers. Additionally, the portrayal of the conflict between the Irish and Cousin Jack populations in the American West is fascinating, and the lessons on the price of prejudice, ethnic conflict, and racism make the book useful for classroom discussions.” – Booklist

A Charm of Silver Cover

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