"Sally" is going on sabbatical to write a book.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Prisoner 88

Prisoner 88
by Leah Pileggi
144 pages; ages 10 -14
Charlesbridge, 2013

“Back before I shot Mr. Bennett, most every day was ‘bout the same.” How can you resist a first line like that? Jake Oliver Evans, at the age of ten, is sentenced to five years for shooting a man who threatened to kill his father.

The year is 1885 and Jake, now an inmate at the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary, is faced with being on his own and figuring out how to survive amongst the company of older, hardened criminals. Being put on bread and water – that’s something Jake can handle. But when the warden determines that Jake needs to learn how to read, well that’s real punishment. Fortunately, he’s had some experience working with hogs, so when a local hog farmer needs a ranch hand, Jake is sent over.

There’s plenty of adventure, an attempted prison-break, and more than you ever want to know about hogs. Best of all… this story is based on an actual incident reported in The Idaho Register, a newspaper out of Eagle Rock, Idaho. You can check out photos of the old prison at Leah Pileggi’swebsite.

 Today is also Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday round-up. Drop by to see what other bloggers are reviewing. Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. Very interesting premise! I'm going to track this one own and have several young readers I could recommend this one to. Thanks for featuring.

  2. Great hook! I know I would enjoy this story.

  3. Ooh, I really like the first line too! I can tell from your description that Jake's an interesting character. I'll be adding this to my TBR list.

  4. I already love Jake. Very original premise!