Reviews for Newsgirl

Booklist Reviews 2009 September #2
It is 1851, and 12-year-old Amelia is traveling with Mother and Estelle, Mother's friend, to San Francisco to make a fresh start. While the two seamstresses struggle to establish a business in the predominantly male frontier city, Amelia quickly adapts by cutting off her hair and joining the gang of orphaned boys who make their living selling newspapers. When she and a friend become trapped in an escaping hot air balloon, Amelia goes on an unexpected adventure to the gold fields, where she meets kind people of all classes that cause her to question the casual prejudice of the time against women and people of color. She also confronts her mother about her unknown father and comes to understand that whether she acts like a girl or a boy, she will always be Amelia. Unique in its historical depiction of a female-headed family, this spirited and smartly paced feminist take on the Gold Rush era will pair well with Karen Cushman's The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (1996). Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Young Amelia arrives in San Francisco in 1851 with her mother and family friend Estelle. Amelia quickly learns what it takes for a girl to survive in a city run by men. >From dressing as a boy in order to sell newspapers to taking a harrowing hot-air balloon ride, Amelia's gumption is admirable. Ketchum offers a pleasurable and well-researched glimpse into mid-nineteenth-century America. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #1
Amelia arrives in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush with her mother and Estelle, the two parents in her family. She has never known her father, and immediately readers are made aware of the widespread condemnation their household received back in Boston. The realities and uncertainties plaguing the burgeoning community fall heavily on her family unit, one familiar today and likely as familiar then, if seldom chronicled. Amelia finds dresses and expectations of ladylike behavior constricting and immediately tries to succeed selling newspapers in competition with the boys. While Amelia gets into trouble as fast as she tries to get out of it, she is nevertheless a sympathetic character. An inadvertent balloon trip broadens her horizons as her vulnerability to danger increases. Gradually she comes to accept her new surroundings and realizes the love her mother and Estelle have for her. Countless novels that have gone before have explored the emotional territory of an absent parent within the context of an upheaval in history, but this is notable for exploring an alternative family structure in an historical setting. (Historical fiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 5-8--Never has 12-year-old Amelia Forrester found it so inconvenient to be a girl. Her mother and family friend, Estelle, can come all the way from Boston to San Francisco as businesswomen, but Amelia can't even sell a months'-old Boston newspaper without being assaulted and taunted by boys. While the two women--dressmakers by trade--adjust their business plan to make clothing for men, Amelia makes an entrepreneurial decision of her own. She chops off her long hair, dons a borrowed cap and trousers, and takes to the streets of 1851 San Francisco to hawk newspapers. Her nose for news soon leads her and her new friend, Patrick, to a much-hyped balloon launch. As fate would have it, they are invited to stand in the balloon's basket, but the men on the ground lose their grip on the tethers and the children find themselves soaring over the mountains. After a crash landing, Amelia is badly injured and brought to the mining town of Sonora to mend. Much to her dismay, orphaned Patrick finds a family with a French prospecting couple, while Amelia ponders her fatherless upbringing. She does finally recover, finds a newspaper editor who publishes her story, and returns home a hero. Ketchum nicely interweaves actual events into this engaging story. She also covers the topics of discrimination and same-sex couples with aplomb. Amelia is a well-rounded character: imperfect, persistent, unsure of herself, and likable. An educational and entertaining read.--Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY

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