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Danny and Life on Bluff Point:
The Man on the Train

Mary Ellen Lee

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : iUniverse

Published : 2004

Copyright : Mary Ellen Lee 2004

ISBN-10 : PB 0-595-32434-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-595-32434-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Danny and Life on Bluff Point - Book 4

Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Man on the Train is the fourth in a series of historical novels for children. It is now March of 1895 and the last iceboating of the winter is done with a family trip across Keuka Lake to the community of Crosby. Danny has his sister Mary with him and must carefully control his iceboat in a very strong wind. Great Grandma Baker tells the children about her family's trip from Rensselaer County to Orleans County on the Erie Canal in 1858.

Grandma and Grandpa Scott leave Bluff Point and move to Gorham with the help of the Lee family. The ride on the steam cars is fun for all until Mary is trapped in the livestock car by an evil man. Danny helps with the rescue.

Danny learns when it is time to stand up for himself and his loved ones.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (300618) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 9/10

On the pages of Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Man on the Train Mary Ellen Lee continues her narrative of Danny and his family, who during the late 1890s, live up in the Finger Lakes region of Yates, County, New York.

This title is the fourth in a series of well-expressed novels relating the day to day happenings of a 10-year old boy's life in 19th century rural Yates County, NY. Starting with Danny and Life on Bluff Point, set in December of 1894, the series based on the life of the author's grandparents, father, and his sisters was launched.

Per the author’s revelation concerning the series; it was when entering her grandfather's childhood journals into her word processor that the sentiment for the Danny books was born. Mary Ellen Lee decided to write a historical novel based on the journals. Many of the stories are based on her Grandfather's journals and include, as well as, the in depth research that she does. The "Danny" series began with each well written edition a compendium of several vignettes supporting a central theme.

Danny and Life on Bluff Point The Man on the Train is the fourth in the series of historical, slice of life novels targeting middle grade students relates the ups and downs of daily life for the family enjoying life on their farm where livestock and fruit trees abound.

Great Grandma Baker regales her audience as she tells the children how her family undertook a journey from Rensselaer County to Orleans County on the Erie Canal. Grandma relates that it was in 1858 that she and her husband travelled along canals, passing through locks, and enjoying a chance meeting with an elderly couple.

Danny is the only boy in the family and is expected to do his share of the chores on the family farm. His diminutive stature and paucity of strength is the misery of Danny’s existence as he longs to gain stature and become brawny like his Pa. Danny is determined to help provide toward the well-being of his family.

It is during this period that Grandma and Grandpa Scott, with the help of the Lee family, determine to leave Bluff Point and move to Gorham. Along with all of his other chores, Danny is very eager and ardent to willingly accept the responsibility of raising the goats his Grandparents give to him. He is thrilled with the opportunity because he is cognisant of his parent's financial concerns and he has an opportunity to make some money from the goats.

Danny is now 10 years old and facing a crossroads centred in large part on his desiring more responsibility. The book depicts some of the physical and financial hardships of the times, along with the dynamics of family life, including affection and support through the inevitable disagreements all families commonly experience.

During spring, 1895 the last ice-boating adventure of the winter is completed with a family trip across Keuka Lake to the community of Crosby. Danny and his siblings are growing up on a rural farm near Keuka Lake in New York State. At the end of winter spring in the air. Spring thaws increases peril for the ice boaters and Danny must be extra careful as his young sister is riding with him. Danny with his sister Mary depending on him must cautiously control his iceboat in a very strong wind.

The time is now March 1895, Ma has taken the train to Hall’s corner with her mother, Grandmother Scott. They are visiting Great Grandpa Hall who is seventy one years old. Sister Mary’s vexation with Danny and his day dreaming has not yet been solved and he and Mary are not yet friends again as the Danny saga continues.

Danny is a little apprehensive about trying to make pancakes for breakfast. Cooking on the wood stove is proving daunting to Sister Ruth who is trying to fills Ma’s shoes while Ma is away.

Ice-boating on the lake, Uncle Jerome, a trip across the ice to Crosby, crabby cousin Al, a visit with Grandma Baker, Cousin Marion and Cousin Al all provide exciting fun for the family.

At last Ma comes home, the family enjoys a get together with Uncle Philo and Aunt Clelli, the children have fun with yo-yos, and the ice begins breaking up.

Driving pigs home becomes quite an adventure, as Uncle Ed and Danny go to a neighbouring farm to bring home the family sows. Using stout sticks they get the pigs heading home without too much trouble, it isn’t too long until the sows have notions of their own and begin to wander off the roadway.

Grandpa Smith, a blacksmith and a farmer is going to move and Danny wonders how his life is going to change. Danny and the men busy themselves with preparing the household goods for the move. Uncle John and Uncle Edward will take a load of goods to Gorham in the horse-drawn democrat wagon.

It is an emotionally bittersweet time for the family as the Grandparents are moving away, creating the need to experience both ferry and steam car excursions.

Danny is a little concerned about Mary and himself traveling alone to Gorham on the train to visit their Grandparents and to help with the unloading and setting up of the new home. He is apprehensive about being with so many strangers.

During the trip Danny proves himself a hero when a stranger with a cigar tries to hurt Sister Mary. The ride on the steam cars is fun for all until Mary is trapped in the livestock car by an evil man. Danny helps with the rescue. Danny's instincts concerning the evil man on the train pay off and he is able to save his young sister from harm.

Author, Mary Ellen Lee has a keen interest in the Finger Lakes Region; her family has lived there for four generations.

Lee has undertaken an important role furthering the education of young readers. Students in the middle grades gain an enjoyable history/social studies lesson by reading this series and learning how much life has changed since the 1890s.

While this series is written for the 8 – 12-year-olds, my reading then aloud to my fourth grade students during the 15 minute period following lunch recess offered opportunity for children living in a rural setting in modern day Oklahoma whetted my students’ appetite to learn more of the fabric of our nation and their own families.

I particularly like that the books are well-researched and while set largely on Bluff Point, a peninsula located between the two branches of Keuka Lake, the situations described are not unlike rural family life experienced during my childhood spent in the San Joaquin Valley, California or to the life my students living today in rural mid America.

The escapades pitting young Danny against danger, whether strong wind on the frozen lake or an evil man terrorizing his sibling on the train, add appeal and excitement leading to spirited discussion for my students.

Danny, as were my students of the same age, was learning through mistakes, and beginning to see consequences for action while learning about responsibility and discovering how to make good choices. Sometimes it works, for Danny, and as my students noted sometimes, he and they, make poor choices and while they are maturing they still find themselves in a messy situation.

I found The Danny Books to be a first-class addition for our class library shelf.

I enjoyed reading Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Man on the Train, learned interesting facts regarding the Finger Lakes area of New York and am happy to recommend the series for the personal reading shelf, the class reading list and school and public libraries.
Molly Martin (30th June 2018)

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