Charlotte's Rose by A. E. Cannon, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Charlotte's Rose

Charlotte's Rose

4.8 5
by A.E. Cannon

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I will carry that baby to Zion,” I shout at them, “just see if I don’t!”

Well! I did it! I have left them all quite speechless.

In 1856, 12-year-old Charlotte and her widowed father are members of a Welsh handcart company on the Mormon Trail, so poor they cannot afford wagons but must push carts from Iowa City to Utah. When a woman


I will carry that baby to Zion,” I shout at them, “just see if I don’t!”

Well! I did it! I have left them all quite speechless.

In 1856, 12-year-old Charlotte and her widowed father are members of a Welsh handcart company on the Mormon Trail, so poor they cannot afford wagons but must push carts from Iowa City to Utah. When a woman in the company dies giving birth, and her husband is too distraught to care for the baby girl, Charlotte grandly offers to care for the baby, whom she names Rose. But taking care of Rose turns out to be much harder than Charlotte expected. She’s stuck; she can’t give Rose back. As she struggles along the trail with the infant, she comes to love Rose, and to dream of life with “her” baby, even though Papa and others remind her that she will have to give Rose back to her father when they part ways at the end of the trail.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In what PW called a "strongly sketched pioneer novel," Mormons emigrating from Wales traverse the West with pushcarts, and a bold 12-year-old girl shoulders the additional burden of an infant whose mother has died in childbirth. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Author A. E. Cannon brings to the national market the tender story of twelve-year-old Charlotte, a Welsh immigrant who crossed America with a handcart company. Along the Mormon trail, Charlotte volunteers to care for the baby daughter of a woman who has died. At first, she is proud of herself, believing she has shown the adults that she is nearly a woman. But Charlotte soon realizes how difficult a task she has undertaken. Charlotte is frustrated by the baby's frequent crying, her own lack of sleep, and her not being able to spend the time she would like with her new friend John, a boy who wants to see her as more than just a child. Eventually, she can no longer stand her adult responsibilities, and so one day, she abandons them, leaving the baby sleeping beneath her handcart, and taking off for a walk with her admirer, John. Unfortunately, when she returns, the baby is gone. Frantically, Charlotte searches for the baby—only to find her in the hands a strange woman. This coming of age novel demonstrates that adolescents experience doubts and uncertainty, no matter the time period or circumstance, and that guidance, patience, and perseverance are the guideposts towards becoming a fully functioning adult. 2002, Wendy Lamb Books, Random House, 256 pp.,
— Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-As they travel to Utah, a group of Welsh immigrants are sustained by their Mormon faith and little else. Motherless Charlotte, 12, and her loving father are among the followers. On the ocean, the prairies, and finally into the mountains, the journey is difficult and deadly. When a young woman dies in childbirth, her husband can't face the baby. Thinking of her own mother's death during childbirth, Charlotte offers to take over the care of the infant-except for feeding. It is a demanding task for one so young, and her need for help is obvious. A ghostly white lady haunts the edge of Charlotte's consciousness in a mild evocation of spiritual support, but as food and supplies run short, Charlotte's high spirits gradually adjust to reality. Amid quoting scriptures and singing songs, the protagonist's clear innocence and goodness sometimes leaves the narrative teetering on the edge of saccharine indulgence. However, physical hardships and the emotional toll of being part of an often-misunderstood religious group help bring some balance. Despite a large cast, Cannon manages to distinguish most of her characters. Even though this is valuable as one of a very few books to show readers the Mormon Church from the inside and with sympathy, the focus is on the characters and not on the faith. Based on historical fact, the book offers a genuine headstrong girl in hardscrabble circumstances with a lightness of heart and a strong will to do right.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cannon (On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 650, etc.) returns after several years with an engrossing, detailed, thoroughly real story of faith, family, and community. Twelve-year-old Charlotte and her father are part of a band of several hundred Welsh Mormons making an arduous journey to Utah in 1856. The Mormon Church sponsors the trip, but cannot afford to make it easy on the pilgrims: after a ship to Boston and a train to Iowa City, the families, organized into bands of 70 people, must push their belongings across the prairie in handcarts. Impetuous, lively Charlotte still grieves for her mam, who died not long before the trip began, and recites the names of her dead brothers and sister, "David. Robert. Owen. William. Ann," as a way of reminding God that they were important to her. On the ocean voyage, Charlotte finds a small doll and carries it about for several days before seeking out its owner, but at the start of the pushcart section she finds a better substitute for all she’s lost: a newborn baby whose mother, a friend of Charlotte’s, dies in childbirth. The baby’s father is too grief-stricken to even look at the child, and Charlotte defies the women of her group by insisting that she will carry it to Utah, she will care for it and love it. And she does. Caring for the infant, whom Charlotte names Rose, is more difficult than Charlotte expects, but she conquers all obstacles with believable spirit and the help of the women who surround and support her, and who, in the end, help her make the right decision about Rose’s future. Pinpoint historical details never overwhelm the force of the story, emotions ring true throughout, and the large cast of characters comes vividlyto life, none more than Charlotte, strong and lovely. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Saturday, April 19, 1856

Aboard the S. Curling, ready to set sail from Liverpool

Here's a secret I have not told a soul. Not even Papa.

I wish I were famous. Like Queen Victoria, maybe, although I would not care to look like her. She has lovely blue eyes, but she is too short.

So perhaps I would rather be famous like that man Dickens.

I am sure I could do what he does. Publish stories in journals and get paid. Oh, I have so many tales blooming in my head. Comedies. Romances. Tragedies. Some of them are stories Mam told me before she died, but most of them I just made up. I cut and stitched them from air.

My girlfriends back in Port Talbot, Wales, used to love my stories, especially the romances, which I told as we strolled through narrow streets at night. We walked to the Morfa Colliery to greet our fathers and brothers, who were covered with coal dust.

"How do you do it, Charlotte?" my friends would say.

Truly, I don't know. My head is just a cupboard. I open it up and the stories are waiting for me on the shelves.

So it is a huge sadness to me that although I will be thirteen years old come this summer, I cannot read. Nor can I write my stories down.

I must try to remember, then--everything that happens to us as Papa and I commence our journey this nineteenth day of April in the year of our Lord 1856 from the docks of Liverpool, England. Like those children of Israel who searched for the Promised Land, we are headed with seven hundred Mormon brothers and sisters for the distant blue mountains of Utah in America.


I only pray that my remembrances will not unravel and turn back into air but will always hold their shapes in my heart.

Monday, April 21, 1856

On the S. Curling, in Cardigan Bay,

off the Welsh coast

Brother James Bowen sits across the chessboard from me, stroking his gray beard with strong fingers stained from years of scratching the earth for coal. Sister Margaret Bowen stands with her arms folded across her stout bosom, looking over her husband's shoulder. Papa rests on a stool nearby, carving a piece of wood. He's not wearing his hat, so his red hair gleams like copper in the sun.

We're surrounded by ship sounds. Sails snapping in the wind. Passengers gossiping. Children laughing. A band is playing "All Is Well" on the other side of the deck. One of the brothers from London is preaching in that language which I do not care for, but which I must learn because I'm going to America, where they speak English, not Welsh.

There are ship smells, too. Mingled scents of fish and food and wool clothing slightly wet. Papa teases me about my nose, saying I use it more than I use my ears or my eyes--or sometimes my head!

Brother Bowen reaches across the chessboard to make a move.

Just then I take a bite from my hard crust of bread and chew loudly.

Brother Bowen frowns. He draws his hand back as if he has just touched something hot. Sister Bowen catches my eye and winks. She understands what is happening here, of course. Sister Bowen understands everything.

Overhead a circle of seagulls laughs against a bright blue sky. Inside, I laugh with them. Ha! Ha! Ha! I am beating you for the first time ever in my whole life, Brother Bowen.

"Good afternoon, President and Sister Bowen. Brother Edwards."

Oh no.

It's that awful old Brother Nathaniel Roberts and his shriveled wife, Lititia, who believe they are more righteous than the rest of us. They come from Glamorgan County like the Bowens and Papa and me, although Brother Roberts didn't work in the mines.

They used to have money once. You can tell because of the expensive cameo Sister Roberts always wears pinned beneath her chin.

I was hoping we could leave the Robertses behind in Wales.

"Good afternoon, Nathaniel. Lititia," says Papa.

Sister Bowen smiles and nods, though her smile is more polite than friendly. Brother Bowen is too busy scowling at my rook to say hello.

Brother and Sister Roberts pretend to stroll about the deck enjoying the brisk sea air, but they have come to spy. Last night after evening prayers, I overheard them telling handsome Brother George Jenkins and his beautiful wife, Rosa, that playing chess was the first step toward gambling, and that they were disappointed in Brother Bowen. Imagine, they said, a church leader teaching a wild little girl like Charlotte Edwards to play a game like that.

At first their words made me quiver inside, the way I always do when I realize someone is angry with me again. I don't mean to cause trouble. But then I got mad at Brother and Sister Roberts.

For one thing, I am not a little girl. Mam died at Christmastime giving birth to my brother David. He also died. Since then I have kept house for my father, Daniel Edwards, a collier and pit carpenter.

For another, chess and gambling are not the same thing, although I may take up gambling one day just to irritate Brother and Sister Roberts.

Anyway, Brother Roberts is jealous of Brother Bowen, who was made president of our group yesterday in a general meeting of all seven hundred Mormons on board. (The rest of the passengers on the S. Curling are gentiles, meaning they are not Mormons.) We were divided into eleven groups, or wards, in which to conduct our worship and to help one another with cooking and cleaning on our voyage. Papa and I are in the Bowens' ward.

Sister Roberts gives a dry snort. She and Brother Roberts link arms and leave.

Dear God, I say in my head, please bless that the two of them will lose their footing and slip. Soon.

Brother Bowen cocks a bushy brow. "Your daughter seems to think she has me trapped, Daniel."

Papa smiles. Brother Bowen growls at me.

"You do not scare me, Brother Bowen," I say, taking another noisy bite of bread. "But then, you do not scare anybody."

"Our Charlotte speaks the truth, Husband." Sister Bowen rumples Brother Bowen's hair as if he is a clumsy puppy tumbling at her feet.

"Daniel, you really must teach your daughter to respect her elders," grumbles Brother Bowen. "Also, I would appreciate it if you would encourage her to chew with her mouth shut, especially when she is playing chess with me."

Papa and Sister Bowen and I whoop with laughter. And so do the seagulls, which spin like angels on white wings above us.

Brother Bowen makes his move.

And I make mine. "Check."


Ocean water shoots straight up from the sea and sprays everyone on this end of the deck. I blink. My hair is soaked and my clothes are plastered to my skin. The chess pieces crash to the floor and roll beneath our feet.

"Lordy!" says Sister Bowen as she shakes drops of water from her hands.

Someone laughs.

I look up and see the Bowens' son John grinning down from the top of Captain Curling's cabin, where he sits, lazily swinging his long legs, which are not at all wet. His hair stands straight up in the wind like a glossy black coxcomb.

His eyes catch mine, and he smirks at me.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Ann Cannon is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of several books for young readers, including Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night, the 1987 winner of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, and Shadow Brothers and Amazing Gracie, both ALA Best Books for Young Adults.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Charlotte's Rose 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this book again and again and I still love it. Can you please write a sequal?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charlotte's Rose is sooooo good. I want to read it again and again! When I first bought it, I thought 'I'm I really going to like this book?' But I bought it and I'm glad of it because I was so hooked on it! I love the story plot and everything else! A.E. Cannon...please, please write a sequel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently read Charlotte's Rose for Virginia Young Readers. It was wonderful! Charlotte is a Mormon girl who immigrates to America with her father and other Mormon adaults and children. When a mothers dies giving birth to her baby girl, and her father rejects her, Charlotte volunteers to care for the baby. She names her Rose, and at first, Charlotte got very annoyed by her. She then came to realize the enjoyment that came with the responsiblity. It was a wonderful book, though I think it could have had a better ending... or a sequal!
BooksAreMyLifeSS More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great story with wonderful character development. It gave me a greater appreciation for the strength, dedication, and trials that the pioneers went through. Loved Charolotte!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago