Cabin on Trouble Creek

( 5 )

Overview

After clearing enough forest to build a log cabin for their new home, Pa returns east to fetch the rest of the family, while young brothers Daniel and Will stay behind to watch the land. Pa had planned to return within six weeks . . . but something must have gone wrong. Now the boys must survive the winter with only a few supplies and their ability to invent and improvise. But are they alone in the woods? Jean Van Leeuwen's engrossing novel of pioneer survival is based on a true...

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Overview

After clearing enough forest to build a log cabin for their new home, Pa returns east to fetch the rest of the family, while young brothers Daniel and Will stay behind to watch the land. Pa had planned to return within six weeks . . . but something must have gone wrong. Now the boys must survive the winter with only a few supplies and their ability to invent and improvise. But are they alone in the woods? Jean Van Leeuwen's engrossing novel of pioneer survival is based on a true incident.

In 1803 in Ohio, two young brothers are left to finish the log cabin and guard the land while their father goes back to Pennsylvania to fetch their mother and younger siblings.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Within Ohio's history lies a harrowing account of two young boys who miraculously survived—on their own—in a partially-built wilderness cabin for eight months, from the fall of 1803 until spring of 1804. Very little is known about them except their names and ages. Leeuwen, researching early settlers of Ohio, came across their story, changed their names and fleshed out a compelling book about courage, making-do, hope and growth. Daniel, 11, and Will, 9, accompany their father to a home site deep in an old-growth forest. They fell trees and build a rudimentary log cabin. Then Pa must go back east to fetch Ma and younger siblings. He leaves them with a sack of corn meal, a few blankets, bucket, cooking pot, axe and their knives, admonishing them never to let the fire go out and to look for his return in five to six weeks. But Pa does not return and the boys must face the coming winter with no warm clothing or shoes and whatever provisions they can gather or trap, not allowing themselves to ask, "What if they never do come?" This is a top notch story by a fine writer. I was especially moved by their one friend, Solomon, a Native American who teaches them survival skills, knowing that the time for his people is passing. Daniel's sharp regret at having to fell "granddaddy trees" is a bittersweet reminder to any young reader that with "progress" comes loss. This book is a compelling history lesson and a smart addition to any private, public or school library. 2004, Dial Books for Young Readers, Ages 12 to 15.
—Judy Crowder
VOYA
Brothers Daniel, age eleven, and younger Will travel with their father to an untamed Ohio to build a cabin. When the basic cabin is completed, Pa returns to get the rest of the family, thinking that he will only be gone for five or six weeks. As winter sets in, it soon becomes clear to the boys that Pa cannot get back. Over the course of the winter, the boys learn to catch food, make clothing, and observe the world around them more closely. A sad Indian named Solomon, who challenges their view of a people of which they have only heard through stories, teaches some of these skills to them. A few other characters briefly appear, but this claustrophobic story is mostly of two boys alone in the wilderness. The characters are well developed, and readers will understand their subtle transformation as they learn to survive on their own. The language and style is simplistic, an accurate reflection of both the era and the boys' ages. Younger or reluctant teen readers will enjoy this survival story. Other readers looking for a good inspirational fiction read or one that commends the art of storytelling will appreciate that the boys get through their hardest times by telling each other the Bible stories that their mother used to share. Middle school and public libraries will find this book a welcome addition. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2004, Dial, 224p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Karen Jensen
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Van Leeuwen brings the excitement and danger of life on the frontier vibrantly to life. Daniel, 11, Will, 9, and their father travel to Ohio in 1803 to claim their new land. After hastily building a cabin, Pa returns home to Pennsylvania to fetch Ma and the younger children, intending to come back five or six weeks later. The boys first treat their time alone as an adventure, exploring the woods and fishing in the creek. However, as the weeks stretch into months with still no sign of their parents, the brothers must shift their focus to withstanding the winter. Luckily, a Native American trapper notices them and teaches them some basic survival skills. Still, as snow piles up around them, the youngsters realize how fierce the outdoors can be. Excellent pacing is what makes this novel work so well. From an action-packed beginning to the challenges of a difficult winter, the suspense builds consistently. The boys' struggle is portrayed realistically, without sugarcoating nature's harshness. Daniel and Will also grow and mature as they learn to rely on themselves, their wits, and one another. Not only is this a relevant tie-in to frontier studies, but it is also a good story.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Trouble Creek was the site of a massacre ten years before. Now, 11-year-old Daniel and his younger brother Will are left there all alone to finish a cabin while their father returns to Pennsylvania for the rest of the family. Ohio in 1803 was one big forest, and Van Leeuwen effectively captures its various moods-claustrophobic, lonely, scary, and exciting. When Pa doesn't return and the boys spend the whole winter there, the story becomes a tale of survival, the boys relying on their own instincts and the help of Solomon, an Indian passing through. He teaches them about snares and traps, poisonous and healing plants, and especially how to really see-how to stay alert to the dangers and the promise of the forest. Based on a true incident, this is a fine story of wilderness, family, absence, and new strengths found. It works as both a solid historical novel and as an exciting survival tale. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142411643
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/13/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 381,669
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Van Leeuwen lives in Chappaqua, New York.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    I agree with the person bellow me it sounds just like the sign o

    I agree with the person bellow me it sounds just like the sign of the beaver so why would i want to get this one 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2009

    One of my Favorites!

    This book is really exciting. It starts of kind of boring, but eventually works it's way up to all sorts of adventures. Cabin on Trouble Creek is a great book for girls and boys alike. I definitely recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    best book ever

    this book is the best book ever and i recommended

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    A boy and his father build a cabin in the wilderness. Dad heads back to civilization to gather the rest of the family 'which includes mom, younger siblings and a newborn' and bring them out to the new cabin. Dad doesn't return on schedule and the boy wonders how he will ever survive on his own. An Indian mentor comes on to the scene and teaches the boy many life sustaining skills, including how to set a snare to catch small game. The boy survives through a bitter winter with occasional visits from his indian mentor. The family finally shows up in the spring. They had been sick when Dad showed up to get them and then Dad got sick too. They are amazed and proud at how well their son managed while they were gone. If this synopsis sounds good to you then go read 'The Sign of the Beaver', a Newbery Honor Book written by Elizabeth George Speare in 1983. Speare's other fine works of historical fiction for youth include 'The Bronze Bow' and 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' both winners of the Newbery Medal. This book is a very well written and enjoyable story but I cannot in good conscience rate it higher than a '1' because it is such a blatant ripoff of Speare's wonderful book. The entire time I was reading it I felt as though I had already read it - and I had , except it had been written by someone else. Everything in the synopsis above is identical in the two books. The only major difference between the two is that in Van Leeuwen's book, two boys are left alone at the cabin instead of one. Van Leeuwen might have at least acknowledged Speare's work by including the statement: 'inspired by ...'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2007

    Great Historical Fiction

    I especially enjoy historical fiction, and this is one of the best works of historical fiction for young people that I have read (especially since I am a native of Ohio, where the plot is set the year Ohio became a state in 1803).

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