Arthur Slade, 2004 by Laurel Leaf, 192 pages.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in
Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange
man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople
with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother
Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what
happened to Matthew and the others.
This is a dark and mysterious book, one that is different from other books I've read. It completely drew me in and made me want to figure out what was going on.
It's the depression and there is a drought in Saskatchewan. Kids are going missing, including 7 year old Matthew. Then Abram Harsich comes to town, promising to solve all of their problems if they help him to build a rainmaking machine. It is clear that he can draw on mystical forces and has everyone under his spell, except for Matthew's brother, Robert. Everyone has forgotten about the missing children, even their own parents, but Robert can't forget. He knows that it all has something to do with Abram and he's determined to figure it out.
This was a book I could hardly put down. Slade describes the scene in Saskatchewan so convincingly and vividly. Then he adds the paranormal aspects and the mystery of Abram. I love how Slade uses the dust of the drought and the dust of the paranormal to hold the story together.
I enjoyed Robert, how passionate and normal he was, how he liked to read books and didn't want his little brother hanging around, but then missed him terribly when he was gone. I loved his determination and resilience.
I think kids who like historical like novels, but also books that are quirky and different will love this book.