Title: Annie’s Ordeal
Author: Marcia Schwartz
Illustrators: Amanda Pankonim and PJ Steinman
Publisher: MaxQ Enterprises, L.L.C.
“I wondered to myself, would the turmoil die down if the masked man could be unmasked and brought to justice? Would we sleep better at nights? Would there be some closure? One thing it would relieve is the paranoia which plagues us: this endless wondering about the innocence of almost everyone we knew or met on the street. But even if the perpetrator could be caught, it still wouldn’t solve the mystery of Pansy, and where she was!” Annie bemoans in Marcia Schwartz’s children’s book Annie’s Ordeal.
This paperback story has one hundred and forty-two pages with a simple drawing of a girl petting her horse with her brother and a barn in the background on the front cover. Sophomoric black and white illustrations by Amanda Pankonim and PJ Steinman are at the beginning of several chapters. Even though the book has a few profanities and slang, it is targeted toward middle-school age children. With misspellings and full capitalization of words for emphasis, the writing contains some complex vocabulary that only experienced readers will understand such as reverberated, staccato, apparition and cacophony.
This short tome is about young Annie and her large family who are involved in a home burglary intrusion in the late 1940s while living on their remote Kansas farm. Having to deal with the feeling of being violated, the family adapts to a new way of living under their own insecurities and protection. Written from the seventh grader’s viewpoint, she makes it her quest to find the thief who she believes has also let loose her cherished pony, Pansy.
While the horse goes missing for several days, Annie and her brother find fresh oats in old lady neighbor Nellie’s barn and wonder if the strange lady could be involved. Throughout the countryside the family and police look for the robber and missing pony, only finding a few clues. When Annie does spot her beloved animal, the eleven year old girl gets involved with Nellie in a kidnapping. With family dynamics, tales of sibling injuries, ongoing feuds with a school friend and Grandmother’s prayers and Bible verses, the story gets jumbled and lost between the pages, meandering back and forth within time periods.
Although the tale has repetition and some mundane discussions, it might be enjoyed by a young reader who likes adventure, the Midwest, animals and learning new words. If there was no profanity, it might be acceptable for the Christian homeschooler to read and appreciate.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.