Cover image for Away west
Away west
Publication Information:
New York : Puffin Books, 2006.
Physical Description:
121 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Reading Level:
510 L Lexile
Added Author:
In 1879, thirteen-year-old Everett Turner leaves a life of struggle on his family's farm and runs away to St. Louis, where he works in a livery stable before heading to the all-Black town of Nicodemus, Kansas.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Paperback book PB J FICTION MCK 1 2

On Order



A historical chapter book series from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author, Patricia C. McKissack.

Unlike his older brothers, thirteen-year-old Everett was "born in freedom," never knowing life as a slave. His most prized possession is the medal his father earned in the Civil War. Now, more than 125 years later, that treasure is kept in the Websters' attic with other "scraps of time," ready to be discovered by another generation eager to know its family history. The second novel in Patricia C. McKissack's family saga recounts a young Southern boy's dream of heading west to a new life and the way in which his journey teaches him the deeper meaning of the medal his father won.

"A rewarding tale that highlights a lesser-known aspect of American's pioneer story." -- School Library Journal

Author Notes

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Horn Book Review

In this accessible chapter book, Gee tells her grandchildren about her grandfather. In 1879, Everett Turner, thirteen, runs away from farm life and joins the Exodusters--African Americans heading West to begin new lives. Everett learns to handle horses, realizes his dream, and helps his brother fulfill his calling. McKissack ably blends historical detail into the narrative, which is effectively illustrated. Timeline. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-6. In this companion to Abby Takes a Stand0 (2005), from the Scraps of Time series, the Webster cousins find a Civil War medal in their grandmother's attic, and Gee relates a story about Everett Turner, to whom the medal belonged. In 1879, the newly orphaned Turner runs away to St. Louis, where he works in a livery stable, earning money to move west to the all-African American town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Everett treasures his ability to read and write, but his developing skills as a horse trainer earn him a place on the wagon train. McKissack augments her story about the town with details of African American Civil War regiments (where Everett's father earned the aforementioned medal) and the buffalo soldiers. Short chapters, simple sentences, and James' pencil sketches make this an appealing choice for newly independent readers; an appended time line clarifies the actual people and events. Suggest Daniel Chu's Going Home to Nicodemus0 (1994) to children who want to learn more about the town. --Kay Weisman Copyright 2006 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-4-The second in the series, this book begins as the Webster children investigate their grandmother's attic. A memento there leads to the story of their ancestor, Everett Turner. Following the Civil War, he was the first of his family to be born into freedom, and the first to be educated. As his story begins, Everett has stowed away on a riverboat headed to St. Louis. He's seen a pamphlet about free land in the West that has him dreaming of his own place. Fortunately, Everett falls in with good people in St. Louis. He learns to work with horses and joins a group of former slaves headed for Nicodemus, KS. The story ends as the group begins the trip to Kansas City. The cover art with a boy on a bucking horse will draw many readers. They'll find a rewarding tale that highlights a lesser-known aspect of America's pioneer story. McKissack deftly weaves in details of the time, including Buffalo soldiers, the role of the church, and the rise of the Klan. This book is just right for beginning chapter book readers who enjoyed Barbara Brenner's Wagon Wheels (HarperCollins, 1978) and are ready for more.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

It's 1879 and 13-year-old Everett Turner is stowing away on a supply boat to St. Louis. He has left his farmer brother Gus to work their exhausted land in Tennessee and is heading west to the new settlements in Kansas, hoping to find his way out of the fields of Pearl, Tenn. and into the cavalry with his older brother. Holding his dead father's Medal of Valor as a talisman, Everett joins the wave of pioneers with little more than the clothes he's wearing. Using his wits and his ability to read, Everett earns a spot with Benjamin Singleton's group and starts his new life in Kansas. Important and sometimes neglected historical details are here: Buffalo soldiers, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the slave-built Eads Bridge and the settlement of Nicodemus, Kan. In short, readable chapters, complete with cliffhanger endings, McKissack brings another slice of history to life for new readers. A must for young history buffs. (timeline) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.