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Crows & Cards: A Novel

Crows & Cards: A Novel

Written by Joseph Helgerson

Narrated by MacLeod Andrews


Crows & Cards: A Novel

Written by Joseph Helgerson

Narrated by MacLeod Andrews

ratings:
3.5/5 (6 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Released:
Apr 6, 2009
ISBN:
9781423391784
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Three warnings for listeners who hate surprises:
1. Beware of slivers,
2. and gamblers,
3. and aces.

Zebulon Crabtree found all that out the hard way back in 1849 when his mother and father shipped him off to St. Louis to apprentice with a tanner. Too bad he had serious allergies to fur and advice from his parents. Hearing the beat of a different drummer, Zeb takes up with a riverboat gambler who has some special plans for him, crosses paths with a slave who turns out to be a better friend than cook, and learns that some Indian medicine men can see even though blind. And then there's the Brotherhood-the one that Zeb can't seem to get out of.…

Released:
Apr 6, 2009
ISBN:
9781423391784
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Joseph Helgerson lives in Minneapolis with his wife, daughter, and son.

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Reviews

What people think about Crows & Cards

3.5
6 ratings / 6 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Fun historical fiction that takes place in St. Louis. Be sure to read the dictionary at the end.
  • (3/5)
    I had some trouble getting into this audiobook & the narration by MacLeod Andrews helped convince me to keep going. While I ended up liking this story more than I expected to at first, I would say that if you want a Mark Twain type story (which this is) then read Mark Twain!As I was mulling over my thoughts and reactions after finishing, I realized that most of my problems with the beginning of the book stem from one specific I thought didn't ring true: Zeb's parents sending him alone with $70. Seventy dollars in ~1840 was a huge amount of money yet his parents make no attempt to warn to be careful or to watch out for thieves. Zeb himself doesn't seem to consider the money as any sacrifice on their part either. This was pivotal to the plot and since that didn't seem realistic, I was sceptical of the book for quite a while afterwards. I don't recall how old Zeb is supposed to be, but he struck me as pre-teen (12 or so) and I think he is supposed to be a bit older. On the plus side, I thought that the setting was well done and Helgerson's dialogue was excellent.
  • (3/5)
    I got this book as an Advanced Reading Copy through Amazon Vine. I was excited to read it because it is written by a local MN author and I had heard good things about it from other Vine members. It was a clever little book but I had a lot of trouble getting into it.Zeb gets sent off by his parents to apprentice with a tanner. Only thing is, Zeb meets up with a gentleman on his way to St. Louis named Chilly. Chilly accepts the money for Zeb's tanner apprenticeship and agrees to take Zeb on as a apprentice riverboat gambler. Zeb, isn't sure if he holds with the cheating aspect of what Chilly is up to and when he crosses paths with an old Indian chief and his daughter Zeb really starts to wonder if he's made the right choice to serve as a gambling apprentice.I really wanted to love this book. It is reminiscent of something written by Mark Twain. You can tell a lot of research went into getting the quirks of language and the surroundings as right as you can without living them. There is even a dictionary in the back of the book that will help you familiarize yourself with all slang of the times if you're having trouble following.Zeb is an interesting character that has enduring phobias of everything from chickens, to splinters, to the river. As an outsider looking in, you sometimes want to smack Zeb for his naivete but I suppose that is part of his charm. The Indian Chief and the Indian Princess are intriguing characters that really add some mystery to the story.As I said, I was excited to read and love this book. I had a lot of trouble starting it out though. Although Zeb and Chilly are interesting characters the story didn't hold a lot of suspense for me; it didn't really pull me through. I also did not find any of the characters to be especially likable; I had a lot of trouble caring about where the story was going. I really had to push myself to get through this book. Even when Zeb was facing the driest of consequences I wasn't really all that engaged in the story.All in all, it was an okay book. It's a pretty common-type coming of age story set in the river-boat era of the Mississippi. Young boys would probably enjoy it, young girls would be disappointed that there isn't a place for them in that era. The writing was good and you could tell the book was well researched. I wish though that more work had gone into writing a really engaging and detailed story. I'd recommend this book to young boys or fans of Mark Twain. Will I read more of Helgerson's books? Probably not, the writing style and story line didn't really mesmerize me. I can imagine though that a lot of people will really like this book given the rarity of young adult books written in the setting of this book and the solid coming of age lessons included in it.
  • (4/5)
    From the very first paragraph of Joseph Helgerson's "Crows and Cards" you know that wild and wooly shenanigans will be the norm because well...Zebulon Crabtree, that pesky, irresistible main character, (sprat that he is) has a penchant for trouble. It's that very same truculence that has gotten him a one-way ticket on the Rose Melinda to his great-uncle Seth in St. Louis to train him up as a tanner. As much as his parents will miss him (and so will the crow in the wood shed), Crabtree has gotten into enough scrapes to earn him a lifetime of indenture to his uncle. It's one pickle after another when Zeb's journey to great-Uncle Seth's turns into a big detour. After all, does he really want to be a tanner? Does he really want to be around smelly hides? He decides his best bet is to hook up with Mr. Chilly Larpenteur, a shifty-eyed gambler who cons the boy out of his apprenticeship money and reckons he'll teach him the trade of parting rich men from their wealth. As exciting as this new life sounds, Zeb is finding out (rather slowly) that maybe not all is what it seems with Mr. Shifty-Eyes Larpenteur. The best part of Helgerson's book is the language. It is rich in a vernacular that will inspire, and exhilarate readers. Obviously comparisons to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn abound, but Zebulon Crabtree is a different kettle of fish. As our wet- behind-the-ears boy is exposed to the rather quirky situations at hand these coming-of-age lessons can be read as funny, bittersweet and exceptionally lighthearted. When Zeb is repeatedly roped into an elaborate ruse to aid Chilly at cheating at cards, he realizes the lasting implications of his actions. Especially when those cheated are Old Chief Standing Tenbears and his daughter. After experiencing first hand the wise magic of the Chief and his instant affinity with his crow, Zeb sets off to right the wrongs done. You'll find yourself chucking along at the shenanigans. It was a distinct and warm pleasure to dive into Helgerson's characters: including the birdman Professor, Ho John, and Goose. It's truly a perfect tale to treat for bedtime stories, but equally fun for all ages. Enjoy!
  • (3/5)
    This audio book was a free download through AudioFile Magazine as a part of the SYNC Summer Audiobooks Program. Each week for 12 weeks they send out a free download of a YA novel & a Summer Reading Classic pairing. This book was paired with Huckleberry Finn. Set in the mid-1800's, Zeb is sent off on a riverboat down the Mississippi by his parents to be apprenticed as a tanner. However, he meets a riverboat gambler who takes Zeb "under his wing." Zeb first thinks that he is helping the gambler then figures out that he is being taken advantage of, and thereafter tries to get himself out of the situation. This book is written in the style of Huckleberry Finn and in the voice of a 12-yr-old boy, being naive but also with a good set of morals to guide him. This was a good summer read, the audio book is excellent, and a good recommendation for boys or girls, but I think boys would especially appreciate it!
  • (4/5)
    Zeb's parents set up an apprenticeship for him that requires him to travel from Illinois to St. Louis. When he gets on the boat, he crosses paths with a riverboat gambler named Chilly. In his naïveté, he hooks up with Chilly to become his apprentice to learn the ways of the gambler. In actuality Chilly is a crook and scamp, working schemes from every direction. When Zeb finally realizes what he is involved with, he uses information gleaned from Ho-John, a slave at the inn where they live and gamble as well as the chief and princess. Zeb finds his gumption and finds his way out of the comprised situation in which he finds himself.