Silver Dollar Girl by Katherine Ayres
From the cover:
Valentine Harper’s father has been in Colorado for more than a year, seeking his fortune in the silver boom, and she’s tired of waiting for him in Pittsburgh. If her father isn’t ready to come back to her, she’ll go to him! Of course, in 1885 a girl can’t set off on her own. So, armed with a haircut, a dash of luck, and a big dose of courage, Vallie trades her skirts for boy’s trousers and starts out on a cross-country journey to discover a world most girls never see.
With a strong fighting spirit, Vallie faces over-whelming odds in this well-paced adventure and stays true to the search for her father despite every setback.
I don’t think I’ve read many stories set in America in the 1880s and I’m sure I’ve never read anything about the silver boom. I knew it was a piece of our history, but really learned a lot from this childrens story, both about the mining towns and about the differing expectations for girls and boys, women and men. And the expectations differed depending on the region of the country, with the women in the West doing more work and being treated more equally, it seemed, than the women back east.
I think Amber learned a lot from the book, too, although she was so absorbed in the adventure, she probably didn’t notice. This is a great story for girls , especially ones, who, like my daughter, have pronounced themselves NOT “girly girls.” Vallie’s adventures are rough and tumble, she runs into problems at every turn but keeps going. She’s determined to find her father, no matter what, even if that means walking through Independence Pass and taking a boy job at a diner.
The back of the book suggests it’s for ages 9-12, which I think is perfect. There were a lot of phrases in it that Amber wasn’t sure of, but they were easy enough to explain.