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Black Storm Comin

Reading Discussion Guides

Black Storm Comin’ by Diane Lee Wilson

About the Book

WANTED: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.

When Colton Wescott sees this sign for the Pony Express, he thinks he has the solution to his problems. He’s stuck with his ma and two younger sisters on the wrong side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with no way to get across. They were on the wagon train heading to California when Pa accidentally shot Colton and then galloped away. Ma is sick, and Colton needs money to pay the doctor. He’d make good money as a Pony rider. he also needs to get to California to deliver freedom papers to Ma’s sister, a runaway slave. The Pony Express could get him there too…

Does Colton have what it takes to be a Pony Express rider? And if so, will traveling the dangerous route over the mountains bring him closer to family, freedom, and everything he holds dear?

Discussion Questions

  • How does Colton’s experience as a member of a multiracial family affect his life? How does his repeated use of his ability to “pass” for white affect his self-image?
  • While the Pony Express isn’t in operation today, there are many other challenges we face while growing up. What do you confront in today’s world that you see as parallels to the challenges Colton faced?
  • Colton was not the only character in the story to face hardships. How did other family members (Dad, Ma, Althea, Jewel) react to pressures of the outside world?

Extension Activities

  • Working in groups of two or three, look up Pony Express trails in books or on websites. Have each group work on drawing a map of the route the Pony Express followed.
  • Make a Pony Express board game with Pony Express riders as the game pieces, including various hazards encountered on the ride. Be creative, and use other board games as models and for ideas for your game.
Black Storm Comin

Black Storm Comin’

Diane Lee Wilson
Age Level:
Middle Grade
Fiction, Historical Fiction