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Maude March on the Run!    by Audrey Couloumbis order for
Maude March on the Run!
by Audrey Couloumbis
Order:  USA  Can
Yearling, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Since their debut in Couloumbis's delectable The Misadventures of Maude March, the Maude sisters have lived with Uncle Arlen Waters in Independence, Missouri. Maude works in an eatery, serving up food, while Sallie (disguised as a boy) works in Uncle's livery.

However, a reputation (albeit, unintentional) such as Maude's is hard to live down, especially when newspapers describe her, 'with teeth bared, guns drawn, and coattails flapping in an unnatural gust of wind', making recognition and arrest imminent. Sallie informs readers that 'They say my sixteen-year-old sister passes for a man and shoots like an outlaw, and I cannot argue it, since she has done both in her day ... People say a great many things and only some of them are true'. Then Uncle Arlen announces at the supper table that he'll be heading West come morning. His friend Macdougal is in trouble at his cattle ranch in Liberty, Colorado. Shortly after Uncle leaves Independence, another telegram arrives from Macdougal, announcing even more trouble: 'They Have This Day Stampeded My Cattle Shot My Father Burned Down The Barn Stolen My Horse and Killed My Dog I Am Nigh To Giving Up'.

Maude, Sallie, and friend Marion Hardly (aka Joe Harden) plan to head for the Colorado Territory. But before saddling-up, Maude is recognized at the eatery, arrested, and jailed in Independence for a past robbery in another town. Sallie diligently reads dimers about western figures such as Powder Keg McCarthy and Hardwater Hampton, paying particular attention to tips on jailbreaks. Marion and Sallie waste no time in rescuing Maude (they get unexpected help when friends of the soon-to-be-hanged Black Hankie Bandit rescue their leader). Newspaper headlines soon read: MAD MAUDE APPREHENDED AND ON THE LOOSE AGAIN. She's even credited with Black Hankie's escape. Another headline warns that RANGE WAR RAGES in Colorado Territory, while yet another has glad news - WYOMING TERRITORY TO GIVE WOMEN THE VOTE, over which Sallie muses, 'Now, Aunt Ruthie would love to have lived to see that'.

Arriving in Lawrence, KS, they're welcomed by Borden Kind, but that welcome is short lived. Kind has a star on his vest, and yup, Maude is arrested again! Sallie muses, 'these articles about her - us - might move faster west than we could. What we needed was a big bank robbery to bump us off the page. Where was Jesse James when we needed him?' Following another successful jailbreak, they meet up with a medicine wagon - DR. BARNABAS ALDORADONDOS/MIRACULOUS RESTORATIVE ELIXIR. Maude and Sallie work for Dr. Aldoradondo and his wife Rebecca and are treated like family, making up a little for the heartbreak of missing Aunt Ruthie. The colorful Dr. Aldoradondo has the gift for gab, announcing, 'Gentlemen, your valleys shall be raised and your mountains ironed flat, your crookeds made straight as a corpse in December, and your rough places smooth as a mule's coat.'

Audrey Couloumbis's sequel, Maude March On The Run!: or Trouble Is Her Middle Name, presents the vertiginous, brawling, warm-glowing escapades of Maude and her gang as they journey to Colorado. Readers can almost hear the medley of saloon piano, the rhythm of hoofbeats, and see the beauty of western skies - 'The moon had sunk low in the west, and in the east, clusters of deep purple and night-blue clouds were outlined in a fierce orange light.' An amalgam of grit and danger, arrests and escapes, hoots and hollers, all combine into a darn good read!

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