Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Trail of Tears: Season of the Cold Moon by Diane C. Stewart

Cold. Only cold.

Daniel could hardly remember being warm.

Daniel curled into a ball, slid his hands under his armpits, and listened to the bouts of coughing that never seemed to stop in the camp. He was very wary of going to sleep. Lately, many who lay down at night did not wake up in the morning. For those who did, in their hearts it would always be the season of the Cold Moon.

Anthony Westcott was restless. Seventh grade had turned out to be even worse than he had expected. He seemed to spend most of his time dreading "Monday Morning Smackdown," in which class bullies Neal and Colby, as Anthony puts it, "would do the smacking and he'd take care of the down part." Anthony's refuge during the hazards of lunch time was the library, where Mrs. De Losada was happy to help him research an intriguing mystery from his town back in 1831, in which the son of a wealthy resident of Adelaide Village had been kidnapped and rescued by a young Cherokee who had then disappeared in the "Removal," Andrew Jackson's euphemistic term for the forced march of the Cherokees to Oklahoma.

Stuck as bully bait in his present life, Anthony is more and more tempted by the possibility of escape into the past. He, his friend Cal, and sister Liv had already used the Quimbaya chest to travel into the past, and when his library browsing uncovers the unsolved mystery of a missing person and a land-grab conspiracy back in the time of the Cherokee removal from eastern Tennessee, Anthony cannot resist the pull of the past and finally persuades Cal and Liv to go back with him and try to right a wrong in the early days of their town.

But what was meant to be a quick time travel trip turns into a trek through the turbulent times in Tennessee on the Trail of Tears. Traveling with Liv and Cal on foot and by horseback, wagon, and steamboat to Louisville, Kentucky. Anthony finds the kidnapped Eugene, rescued by Daniel Kingfisher, and together the four young people set out return the good deed, to locate and free Daniel from the Trail of Tears. Along the way they find that they call upon former pirate Rob Morehouse, now a prosperous Florida businessman, a sometime foe and recent ally who owes his current life to their Quimbaya device, and together they plan a daring rescue which will right an old wrong and return Daniel to his own time and place and give his descendants a chance to be born in their ancestral homeland.

The third book in Diane C. Stewart's Quimbaya Trilogy, Season of the Cold Moon (Beanpole Books, 2011), combines a strong sense of place, believable characters, and fast-paced adventure with a microcosmic view of the event known as The Trail of Tears, in which thousands were forcibly rounded up and marched overland from the North Caroline/Tennessee Appalachians to the Oklahoma reservation where the survivors' descendants still live today. Stewart's exposition of this sad chapter of history is done straightforwardly, without undue sentimentality, but her inclusion of these events provides a serious backdrop to a rousing time-travel tale.

Other books in this historical series include Quimbaya and Longitude: Zero Degrees.

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