This book is the 29th book in "The American Adventure Series." It is historical fiction set in Minneapolis and Chicago in 1892-1893. These stories follow along with 2 fictional families and use characters with depth to help us experience historical events and locations first-hand. The historical events in this book included the World's Fair, which was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving in America and also the effects of the financial disaster occurring during that time frame. Railroads were going out of business, there were "runs" on banks, many banks closed, hundreds of thousands of people were unemployed and a fire destroyed businesses and homes.
Not only are readers exposed to these historical events, but they are also brought along as the characters wrestle with some inner turmoil or difficult circumstances.
The children travel with family to the Chicago World's Fair and discussion of the exhibits they viewed could lead to fascinating research or unit studies about the time period. From farming, to women's rights, to a towering Ferris Wheel, there is much to see during their visit. Returning home from the fair, the gravity of the unemployment situation bothers the children and Esther comes up with a way to help families who are having a hard time getting enough food. Eventually, the city takes more notice and begins to tally the number of unemployed and plans are made to help assist these families.
We use these books as part of our homeschool history to give the children a broad overview and spark their interest in American History. I've been very pleased with them and have only discovered a few books which had plots or content a bit too intense for my 6 and 4 year olds. All have been very appropriate for my 4th grader and enjoyable for me to read as an adult. I've learned a lot through this series that I hadn't learned in school and it's much more pleasurable than memorizing dates or watching a dry documentary.