I recently finished reading Ernest Lived . . . and other Historical Fiction Short Stories published by Red Penguin Books for their Red Penguin Collection that’s edited by J.K Larkin. These fifteen stories take place during different time periods. The anthology featured a contest for the best story that would be the featured story in the collection. Diane Kane’s “Ernest Lived” won and with good reason. This touching story features a boy who befriends an old World War 1 homeless veteran named Ernest whom he meets by the train tracks and invites to live with him on his farm. Ernest teaches the boy many lessons before he dies. The one he remembers most is “When your days are done, and you meet the Lord, it matters not what day you were born, nor the day you die. All that matters is how you lived.”
David Lange contributed two stories to this anthology. The one I liked most was the last story in the book, “Last Card, First Kiss,” about a boy in 1976 who collected baseball cards and was seeking one special card to complete his collection. Looking for this card, he finds something more valuable when he befriends a girl in his class.
Christina Hoag’s story, “The Night on the Rock,” is another 70’s story but involves teenagers instead of kids and has a very different theme. In this one, a young man learns a lesson the hard way after trying to be cool with the ladies and his friends.
Minoti Vaishnav’s story, “355,” takes place on Long Island during the War of Independence when the Culper Spy Ring existed. I loved the fact this story was local, and the twist at the end was very well written.
“Be Brave” by Valerie Ormond was another excellent story. It involved a young man who lost his family in a fire in 1860 and, after some trials, went on to become a Pony Express rider.
If you like stories with paranormal elements, you’ll enjoy “Snowalkers” by R.J. Erbacher that takes place during World War II and features a soldier who is visited by the ghosts of the people he killed in combat.
All the stories in this collection are excellent reads, but the ones above are the ones I enjoyed most not including my own, “The Pyramid Murder,” which takes the reader back to the building of the Great Pyramids and a murder that occurs there that is solved partly by a cat.