Our Favorite American History Supplement: The Our America...Series by Susan Kilbride: Our Review of The Pioneer Adventure

During this past year, I was able to review a science unit study curriculum from Funtastic Unit Studies. My younger girls- 6th and 5th grade- and I enjoyed the fun unit studies from this book written by Susan Kilbride. You can see our review here. Susan is a homeschooling mom with a degree in biology. After that review, I discovered that she was also the author of an American historical fiction series aimed at kids ages 10-13- the Our America series. I had the opportunity to review the first book in the series- The Pilgrim Adventure- here. The books were instant favorites. I purchased the next few in the series, and we've been reading them along with our American history curriculum this year. Now we've had the opportunity to review The Pioneer Adventure. We've loved traveling through American history with this series.

Review of The Pioneer Adventure, American history based fiction for middle grade kids

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About the Our America series


The Our America series is a set of historical fiction books for middle grade kids. The books feature twins Finn and Ginny whose parents have been trapped back in time while using a time machine that their uncle made. In each book, the twins travel to a different time period to look for their parents. In each time period they find people who were their ancestors, and they stay with these people while looking for their parents.

The really cool thing about these books is that all of the people and events that happen around Finn and Ginny are historically accurate. Their story line is the only made up part. And many of the people who are supposed to be the ancestors of the twins are actually ancestors in the author's family line. At the end of each of the books is a section of historical notes to give more information and to explain any differences in history and the book's story.

There are six books in the series:

  • The Pilgrim Adventure- Finn and Ginny arrive on the Mayflower and get to experience one of America's earliest colonies.
  • The King Philip's War Adventure- Finn and Ginny arrive back in early American and become a part of the fighting taking place between colonists and Native American Indians.
  • The Salem Adventure- The twins find themselves in Salem Town during the time when villagers are being accused of witchcraft.
  • The Revolutionary War Adventure- The colonists are preparing for war with England, and Finn and Ginny find themselves trapped in time.
  • The Pioneer Adventure- Finn and Ginny find themselves on a wagon train bound for Oregon and experience the journey westward.
  • The Civil War Adventure- The twins find themselves in Civil War times fleeing slave traders as they continue to search for their parents.
Susan Kilbride has written some great free activity guides to use with each book. With these activities, you can make a unit study of the book. The activities are found on the Fantastic Unit Studies site here.

The books obviously build on each other, carrying on Finn and Ginny's story in each new installment. But it is possible to pick up one and begin reading without having read the previous book. The author has a great prologue at the beginning of each book with a brief explanation of what's happened to the twins thus far.



The Pioneer Adventure


In this continuation of the series, Finn and Ginny decide to continue looking for their parents with another journey in the time machine. They head off and find themselves in the midst of a wagon train bound for Oregon. As usual, they meet some of their ancestors and are able to learn a bit more about where and when they are.

As the twins journey with the wagon train, they are always on the lookout for their parents. And they have the opportunity to learn about the difficulties and hardships pioneers faced as they headed West. As always, there's a twist to the story. This time Finn experiences loss of his memory after a fall from a horse. So Ginny is left with the knowledge of their time travel, and Finn doesn't even remember she's his sister.

Throughout the book, there are some original source documents- something really interesting that is included in all the books. And at the end of the book, Susan Kilbride lets readers know which parts of the story are entirely historically accurate and which may have been added or changed for the story.


The perfect historical fiction supplement


The Our America series has been an awesome resource for us this year and one that came at just the right time. I love to use a literature-based curriculum, and I especially like a historically-based curriculum. This year we (my younger girls and I) used a different for us curriculum to study American history. The curriculum is more textbook driven, but I thought it would be okay and that we would enjoy it. And, I wanted to study American history with my younger girls this year. As we got a little further into the curriculum, none of us were really liking the textbook approach. And then I discovered this series.

Because the Our America series begins with the Pilgrims and continues up through the Civil War, the books cover a good bit of American history. They do so in a chronological manner with historical accuracy and an interesting story line. They've been perfect! We've continued using our American history textbook as a spine. But we've also read through the Our America series for some good, historically-based literature. I'm so glad we found these books!

Why we love these books


The Our America series has become a true favorite for my younger girls and for me. There are several things we particularly love about them.

  • The story line is interesting and does a good job balancing the fanciful ability to time travel with a reasonable and believable story line.
  • Finn and Ginny make very likable characters, and the girls and I are always interested to find out what's going to happen to them next.
  • I love that the events in the books are real, historical events and that the author offers the brief commentary at the end so that we know the historical details.
  • Having real source documents- maps, letters, essays- makes the books more interesting and more historically accurate.

I am truly thankful that we came upon this series this year and that I have been able to collaborate with Susan by writing reviews. We ended up purchasing the books in the series that I didn't review, and we have one remaining book- The Civil War Adventure. We can't wait to see what ultimately happens for the twins and their parents! I can definitely recommend the Our America series as an awesome supplement for your American history curriculum or just as a interesting and educational reading. 

You can find The Pioneer Adventure on Amazon here.






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