It's 1885. Ten-year-old Jake is sentenced to five years in the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary for shooting a man who had threatened his pa. Even though Jake thinks he can handle himself in prison, his day-to-day existence is more brutal than he anticipates. He is taken under the wing of a young guard and befriended by a few fellow prisoners. But when he has to make a choice about right and wrong during an explosive escape attempt, it's clear that the penitentiary is no place for a young boy.
Jake's story of danger and friendship was inspired by the incarceration of a real ten-year-old boy and was written using the trial transcripts, letters, and newspaper clippings from that time.
2013 NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
2013 IndieBound Kids' Next List
2014-15 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List (Vermont)
2015-16 Golden Sower Award List (Nebraska) (YA category)
2016 Charlie May Simon Honor Book (Arkansas). 59,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders voted!
2022 Idaho Kids Vote Book Award nominee
James Oscar Baker was the real boy who served time in the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary. These are his parents.