The Kid

The Kid
Publisher Name
Charlesbridge Moves
Age Range
Release Date
May 07, 2024
It's 1881 in Destiny, Colorado. Fourteen-year-old Henry Upton’s parents have died, and he’s trying to keep his three younger brothers together on the farm. Henry writes a story about The Kid, the fastest draw in the West, to keep people away from their parts. But his stories will soon put more than his family and the farm at risk.

Meanwhile, Herbert might lose his job as an editor at Gunslinger Magazine in Philadelphia if he can't find out why the author of The Kid stories recently stopped sending them. The soft city slicker is headed out west to find the author.

And Snake-Eye Sam has set his sights on The Kid, whom he thinks is real. Sam has evil in his heart and jealousy in his veins. Breaking out of prison to shoot down The Kid is about the only thing that can cure the itch running down Sam's spine.

Three storylines—plus Gunslinger Magazine‘s The Kid stories—intertwine and come together just as Snake Eye Sam and Herbert both arrive in Destiny. On Main Street at high noon, a master plan is put in place at the same time that Henry and the Destiny sheriff get what they need to keep the Upton brothers together.

Pull up for a tall frothy glass of sarsaparilla and enjoy this engaging and satisfying Western tale, full of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, and heart.

Editor review

1 review
An impressive reputation backfires
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The plot is extremely unique for middle-grade readers. First off, there aren’t many books about Wild West gunslingers that feature young characters. The author builds the Old West climate through descriptions of the setting, actions, and the characters’ language. A thief and gunslinger named Snake-Eye Sam crosses hot, dusty plains on horseback to Destiny, Colorado, and spends nights under the stars. He makes stops along the way to rob stores and travelers, often riling himself up into a mood to kill. Surprisingly, the author never actually describes Sam shooting or murdering anyone so it’s appropriate for middle-grade readers. The scenes include tobacco spitting, drinking sarsaparilla (not Sam though!), and encountering rattlesnakes. Readers will let their finds drift back to the 1800s to immerse themselves in the Wild West.
Four different stories are told featuring four different main characters. Perhaps the most important perspective features The Kid, a young boy who’s a quick-draw gunslinger. Other chapters focus on Henry and his brothers as Henry creates stories of The Kid to keep thieves and the state away from their family farm. Another point of view features Sam who has eyes on building his reputation by killing The Kid. Finally, another narrative follows a magazine editor named Harold who’s traveling West to find out why he hasn’t been receiving more stories about The Kid. Harold is naïve about this part of the country and has a lot to learn.
The author builds the plot up to the much-anticipated climax between Snake-Eye Sam and The Kid. The Kid is a fictional character wearing an over-sized hat but readers will immediately note that Henry also wears his father’s too-large cowboy hat. Sam’s anger grows whenever he hears the magazine stories about The Kid so his fury builds to an inferno by the time he reaches Destiny. The big question for readers is how Henry, a boy with zero talent for guns, can survive a showdown with a ruthless, skilled killer. Henry’s main asset is his brain but can that defeat a six-shooter?
What didn’t work as well:
The timeline of the different points of view is a little confusing. The book opens with a tale of The Kid and later chapters describe the outlaw Snake-Eye Sam, the magazine employee Herbert, and finally Henry and his brothers. The strange thing is the introduction of Henry creating The Kid comes after the book has already shared a couple of stories about The Kid. The early sections about Herbert seem out of place but they become more significant once he arrives in Destiny.
The final verdict:
It’s challenging to find middle-grade novels that stand out from others but The Kid is successfully different. Henry’s idea to save the family farm is thoughtful and creative but once readers meet Snake-Eye Sam they’ll realize a final showdown between the two is inevitable. Overall, the plot unfolds into a tense, descriptive tale and I recommend you give it a shot!
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