Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails

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Mother, Father and Baby John are heading west! The fertile Sacramento Valley is calling, and the deep rivers, endless plains, blistering desert, and steep mountains in the way are not going to stop them. The spirit of the grueling and exciting life on those treacherous trails is enlivened by little known details (did you know the pioneers pitched valuables from their wagons ...
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Overview

Mother, Father and Baby John are heading west! The fertile Sacramento Valley is calling, and the deep rivers, endless plains, blistering desert, and steep mountains in the way are not going to stop them. The spirit of the grueling and exciting life on those treacherous trails is enlivened by little known details (did you know the pioneers pitched valuables from their wagons at steep sections of the trails?) and an energetically appealing family.

Praise for Gold Fever, also by Verla Kay and S. D. Schindler:

"A rich vein of Americana, cleverly mined."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Kay's personalized approach to history is a hoot."—School Library Journal, starred review

"As an introduction to a vital piece of American history, it's wryly humorous and unflinchingly candid."—Kirkus Reviews, pointer review

Illustrations and simple rhyming text follow a family as they make the difficult journey by wagon to a new home across the Rocky Mountains.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Plying the same peppy format that powered their Gold Fever, Kay and Schindler once again head West: "Mother, Father,/ Baby John,/ Bouncing, jouncing,/ Moving on." The volume explores life on a wagon train headed for California through the eyes of one family. Kay packs a motherlode of information into brisk quatrains, whether describing a packing list ("Fodder, water,/ Guns and tools./ Clothes and blankets,/ Stubborn mules"), the itinerary ("Rocky Mountains,/ Massive, steep./ Rugged trail,/ Wagons creep"), or homesteading ("Building cabins,/ Clearing lands./ Rustic timbers,/ Helping hands"). Occasionally the format necessitates a surface treatment of the events (e.g., when the families have to lighten their loads on a steep slope: "Dumping, tossing,/ Trinkets, trunk./ Cookstove, treasures--/ Now they're junk"), but for the most part her sound bites entertain as well as instruct. Schindler uses marbleized paper for his watercolor and gouache illustrations, creating a parchment effect that gives the pages the look of an old diary. From close-ups of the characters to sweeping landscapes of the rugged terrain, his vignettes and spreads brim with details. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Written in a style the author calls "cryptic rhyme," this clever story succinctly portrays the westward journey of a family of American pioneers. Young readers are introduced to the westward bound characters of Ma, Pa, and Baby John as they are packing their precious belongings into their covered wagon. The true-grit spirit of this rugged pioneer family is not dampened by the hardships of the trail. They encounter terrible storms, Rocky Mountain passes, endless plains and "frosty, frigid, icy air, Lacy snowflakes everywhere." The family reaches their destination¾the Sacramento Valley and settles into their new life of "sturdy windows, heavy doors, Warm and safe now, Happy snores!" Kay's humor will appeal to young readers in this clever approach to historical fiction. Schindler's beautiful illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the sparse text and add depth and dimension to Kay's characters. 2000, G. P. Putnam and Sons, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sue Reichard
From The Critics
This cute rhyming picture book details the struggles and trials of the journey West. The illustrations give a feeling of the length and hardships without diminishing the appeal to children. The forward and a map outline the main segments of the California Trail. 2000, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $15.99. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: A. Braga SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
School Library Journal
This story, written in the author's trademark rhyming verse, adds a dimension of humor to a family's grueling five-month journey from Missouri to California. Children will be drawn to this adventure through the characters of Mother, Father, and Baby John who, in the charming illustrations, are shown to be a close-knit, happy family. When the trio at last reaches California, they are snug in their log cabin, getting ready for bed, as the rhythmic text comes to a reassuring close: "Mother, Father,/Baby John/Fleecy flannel /Nightclothes on./ Sturdy windows, /Heavy doors./Warm and safe now, /Happy snores." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pioneer family travels from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in a covered wagon some time in the 19th century. The five-month journey is briefly described in rhyming couplets beginning: "Covered wagon, / Bumpy road. / Plodding oxen, / Heavy load. / Mother, Father, / Baby John, / Bouncing, jouncing, / Moving on." Along the way there are storms, mountains, deserts, and snowstorms, till at last the new homestead site is reached, where the land is cleared, and a sturdy cabin built. Not bad for five month's work. The author concludes: "Sturdy windows, / Heavy doors, / Warm and safe now, / Happy snores." The humorous, softly colored illustrations have an appealing folk quality and give a panoramic view of the landscape as they sweep across the double page. Illustrations follow the text and show the wagons moving from the green, wet prairie, up craggy, rocky paths and through parched dry deserts till they come at last to the California meadows lush with wild flowers. The illustrations are even more cheerful than the text. Travelers, says Kay, were "Weary, bleary, / Sweaty, hot," but it sure doesn't show. Upbeat and buoyant, the text and illustrations only hint at the awesome adventure, danger, or difficulty of the journey. Traveling west by covered wagon was no picnic, and this cheerful picture-book presentation tends to obscure rather than illuminate the difficulties of the historic journey west. Diane Stanley's Roughing It on the Oregon Trail (p. 722) does a better job of capturing the flavor of the journey by wagon train. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)Kimmel, Eric A. GERSHON'S MONSTER Illus. by Jon J. Muth Scholastic (32 pp.) Sep. 2000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399229282
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 10.38 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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