Interactive Historical Fiction e-books

Me, California Perkins by Patricia Beatty

California Perkins, the twelve-year-old narrator of this rollicking tale, was named for the state she was born in. In fact, the Perkins family had lived in many states, for Mr. Perkins had an itchy foot. Still none of their experiences prepared them for the year they spent in the Mojave Desert. Mojaveville of 1882 was an appalling sight when the Perkins first saw it—a collection of run-down shacks and tents. California’s mother indignantly left her husband to the town’s bachelor quarters and set about bringing order to her existence and civilization to Mohaveville. California, however, was the one who really saved the day, for she at last succeeded in reuniting her parents.


Patricia Beatty has created a colorful group of memorable characters and a robust story of a trying period in the life of a gallant family in Western history.


“The Creator’s dumping ground” is what Ma calls Mojaveville, the 1882 silver mining town the Perkins family reaches after Uncle Hiram's deceptive letter, and in protest she takes the kids and leaves Pa to board with the grubby bachelors. Callie, Orrie and Wash help her move into the whiskey bottle house Hiram bought the week he had money and Ma remains firm: Pa has to ask to come back and the kids must have a school. With the help of the resident spinster, Jennieveva Acheson, they get a school board and then a teacher, and when she marries, another teacher…and then another. The turnover is tremendous (no marrieds allowed) until Callie puts the women wise: only school board members marry the newcomers—Hiram has a lottery going. A little blackmail elicits Hiram’s resignation and Ma finagles MISS Acheson into the vacancy. The next teacher. MR. Richard de Vere…

Callie’s unforced innocence (she’s almost thirteen) shows the social set-up in revealing incidents: the arrival of the first bathtub, the reactions to symptoms of diphtheria, the resentment of Cornish mining family immigrants. Mrs. Beatty returns to a favorite locale (Bonanza Girl, etc.) in a viable child’s view of adulthood, showing that kids see the darndest things.
— Kirkus Reviews