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A Voice for Kanzas / by Debra McArthur

Title: A Voice for Kanzas
Author: Debra McArthur
Publisher: Kane Miller
ISBN: 978-1-61067-044-9
Year: 2012

Concepts: migration, slavery, social justice, economic history, entrepreneurship, supply and demand

Review: Lucy Thomkins seemed destined to emigrate from Pennsylvania to Kansas Territory given the failure of her father's new store in Pennsylvania to thrive and her parents' strong desire to help make Kansas a free state. Lucy's transition to their new home, however, proved to be more difficult than anticipated after her trunk with all her clothing and books was stolen en route. Not only did she have to wear the same tattered dress everyday, but a fire had claimed all the books at school and the new school building had none. More importantly, she feared the violent atmosphere caused by the conflict between the pro-slavery Border Ruffians and the free-state emigrants who had settled in Kansas.

As Lucy expressed her frustrations in her poetry journal, she wondered how her words could make a difference. It did not take long before a series of fortuitous events, including her growing friendships with a Native American boy and a girl whose family helped escaped slaves on their road to freedom, gave Lucy an opportunity to use her writing skills for making a real impact in Kansas's move toward becoming a free territory.

With a smart, courageous lead character, this book provides young adult readers with an interesting opportunity to learn about Kansas's contentious history involving pro-slave and free-state forces. Along the way are additional economics lessons involving entrepreneurship and supply and demand associated with getting the Thomkins family store off the ground (literally). Although some of the other characters remain under-developed, the book is a good read and is recommended for its well-researched historical content.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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