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Boom Town

Boom Town

5.0 1
by Sonia Levitin, Cat Bowman Smith (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this sequel to Nine for California, Levitin and Smith mine a nugget of American history and turn it into picture book gold. Young Amanda's family has survived the three-week stagecoach trip to California and now the boisterous brood is putting down roots near the gold fields, where Pa pans for a fortune. Eager to make the best of their conditions, Amanda improvises with primitive equipment to turn out pies that she can sell to the miners. When she expands and buys more pans, she recommends to the peddler that he set up a trading post, and the boom begins. Soon she's suggesting that others start a laundry, a livery and other businesses that result in a bustling town. Sparked by a historical report of a "young lady" who earned $11,000 selling pies, this spunky story makes information about westward expansion pulse with fun. Smith's rollicking, dusty-toned watercolors capture the energy of a developing town and convey the can-do spirit of adventurous settlers. Readers inspired by Amanda's success may want to try the gooseberry pie recipe on the endpapers. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Linda Uhlenkott
Boom Town, based on a simple notation from a California history book, tells the story of Amanda and her family's move West during the California Gold Rush. Like so many other prospectors, the family discovers that gold is difficult to come by and success is often a matter of luck as much as hard work. But Amanda, yearning for a pie, discovers that boomtowns need people to support the miners. She experiments until she can bake a gooseberry pie with her limited resources, then she encourages other people to start the businesses that support a town's population. The book details the growth of a town and its businesses: bakery, school, livery, church and bank. The illustrations, while attractive, may be better suited to older elementary students who can appreciate the caricature-like treatment of Amanda, her family and the other miners, a treatment that reduces the children and grownups to gap-toothed, freckle-faced people. Reminiscent of adult books that tell the stories of the building of the West, Boom Town offers young independent readers a realistic view of the gold rush and the settling of the West.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4This charming companion to Nine for California (Orchard, 1996) shows how a California gold-rush town prospered and grew, all thanks to one girl's gooseberry pies. Amanda and her family arrive when the town is just "a stage stop, a pump house, a few log cabins." As her father pans for gold each day, Amanda becomes bored. She digs up an old skillet, picks some berries, and bakes a "hard as a rock" pie in the old wood stove. A few tries later, she gets it right and things start to change. After Pa sells slices to the miners in the gold fields. Amanda gets her brothers to pitch in and expands her pie productions. The fun really starts when she convinces various travelers to stay in town and share their skills. As other craftsmen settle in, the girl's pie business blossoms in the now-thriving town. Amanda's Pa finally gives up the gold-panning life and joins his daughter in the bakery. Now she'll have time for the new school that everyone helped build. Watercolor illustrations capture the lively and humorous spirit of the story. Facial expressions are particularly well drawn, conveying the warmth of family and community amid the chaos of the boom town. Amanda's narration lends just the right touch of humor to an authentic, though exaggerated look at the development of the West. Young readers will particularly enjoy the way the girl subtly manipulates so many adults into contributing to the town's amazing growth.Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
To hear her tell it, freckle-faced Amanda brought about the building of a whole town near California's gold fields in this sequel to Nine for California. Bored by cabin life in the sparse settlement, Amanda figures out how to bake a gooseberry pie in the family's crude wood stove. Soon the prospectors are paying for her pies, and her business success spills over onto other folks, who decide to settle there. Amanda's first-person account moves along briskly, explaining the family's pie-baking efforts and her sharing of ideas. "Folks need things all the time, and there're no stores around. If you were to settle and start one, I'll bet you'd get rich." Smith's energetic watercolor sketches in sandy tones are comic and informative, conveying the busy lives of the homely, hard-working people and the rapid growth of the "boom town," as Pete the peddler, a cooper, a miller, a banker, and other enterprising citizens come to settle. Levitin's matter-of-fact tone (with its whiff of tall tale) and practical heroine demonstrate how personal ingenuity pays off; a brief concluding note acknowledges a historical account of "a young lady who...baked $11,000 worth of pies in a small iron skillet." Her intent to demonstrate that far more settlers made fortunes by providing goods and services than by striking gold is adroitly accomplished in this entertaining lesson in history and human nature. Readers inspired by the baking business will find Amanda's recipe for gooseberry pie overlaid on a California map on the endpapers (although the map's emphasis on the route to Boom Town from Folsom, the final destination in Nine for California, may confuse readers unfamiliar with the first book).
Kirkus Reviews
The companion to the credibility-straining Nine for California (1996), this is a deeply satisfying story starring a resourceful heroine whose real-life counterpart is mentioned in a tiny historical footnote. Amanda and her family settle in a cabin while her father trudges off each week to prospect for gold. Even with a tumble of siblings, though, Amanda is bored until she figures out a way to do what she loves best: bake a pie. When Pa comes home and says he made 25 cents a slice from her gooseberry pie, Amanda begins to bake in earnest. But that's not all she does. She convinces a peddler to set up a trading post, encourages a prospector to open a laundry, and a cowboy to set up a livery stable. The town grows, enough for Pa to go into business with his daughter and for Amanda to think about schooling as well as pie. Smith's detailed watercolors are full of charm: Amanda's red ribbons match her gingham dress, a baby sister sleeps on a ferocious- looking bearskin rug in the cabin, and expressive, cartoony characters festoon the western landscape. It's fun to watch the town grow, spread by spread, and a map and a recipe for gooseberry pie grace the endpapers. Levitin and Smith provide a grand look at the hows and whys behind a town's growth; of course it didn't happen exactly this way—but it might have. (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.46(w) x 9.85(h) x 0.42(d)
AD590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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Boom Town 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
lalakersruletheworld More than 1 year ago
This Book is very good for the Gold Rush Times.