Fourth of July on the Plains of Nebraska

Fourth of July on the Plains of Nebraska

by Jean Van Leeuwen, Henri Sorensen
     
 

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To rest the weary cattle, Pa said the wagon train would stop until after the Fourth of July. At home, Jesse remembered, the Fourth was a day of flying flags and booming cannons, of parades and speeches and game. How should they celebrate way out here on the plains? See more details below

Overview

To rest the weary cattle, Pa said the wagon train would stop until after the Fourth of July. At home, Jesse remembered, the Fourth was a day of flying flags and booming cannons, of parades and speeches and game. How should they celebrate way out here on the plains?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Van Leeuwen (Going West) revisits the rugged pioneer trail in a gratifying book highlighted by warm, period-precise illustrations. Rendered primarily in watercolors, Sorensen's (River Day) art spills gracefully across each spread, balancing panoramas of the muted, tawny plains with slightly hazy close-ups of a group of Oregon-bound families who work together to stage a makeshift Fourth of July celebration. Though the child narrator wonders how they can properly pull off the festivities in a spot so far removed from the "booming cannons and flying flags, parades and speechifying and games" of his Indiana hometown, he manages to orchestrate the day's most exuberant moment. Based on an account of an actual Fourth of July observance on the Oregon Trail in 1852, Leeuwen's tale provides a likably informal child's view of pioneer life, as well as an enthusiastic appreciation for the rituals, both solemn and boisterous, of the Fourth. Ages 4-8. (June)
Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
It is a great treat to drop into the life of a child living in the past. We hear a lot about travels west on the Oregon Trail, but not always from a kid's point of view. The wagon train had stopped near Sweetwater to rest the cattle, and to celebrate the Fourth of July. Jesse wondered how they could celebrate out here on the plains, remembering the parades and picnics at their old home. As the older folks and even older children went off to make preparations for the day, Jesse realized his mom wasn't going to let him out of her sight. But then he had a great idea, and was able to make a real contribution to the day. The lovely watercolor illustrations are a great companion to this interesting, sensitive story. They are loose and impressionistic but convey a great feeling for the landscape and people on the trail.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4Evoking another era with a story of a familiar celebration, this picture book focuses on the antics of a creative but mischievous boy named Jesse. He is left out of the preparations for this special day on the wagon train, a welcomed respite in the arduous journey from Indiana to Oregon. Jesse joins forces with his chums to invent some lively, homemade musical accompaniment to the "speechifying" and feast. The boys' contribution is very much appreciated, and the day ends triumphantly for Jesse, creating memories that will last a lifetime. The day is important to these hardy pioneers, and their emotions shine through in the hazy, yet realistic, pastel-toned artwork, executed in a combination of watercolor, colored pencils, and ink. Van Leeuwen has based her descriptions of food, dress, and customs on an actual celebration of the Fourth along the Oregon Trail in 1852, and on the memoirs of seven-year-old Jesse Applegate. This story could be used in conjunction with the author's Going West (Dial, 1992), as well as with David Williams's Grandma Essie's Covered Wagon (Knopf, 1993) and Scott Sanders's Aurora Means Dawn (Bradbury, 1989). This happy coordination of art and text is cause for celebration.Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Kirkus Reviews
From Van Leeuwen (Blue Sky, Butterfly, 1996, etc.), a fictional look at a Fourth of July celebration held by pioneers headed for Oregon. They had figured on a journey of two months; after eight weeks they are only halfway there. The narrator, Jesse, who is a bit of a rascal, tries to follow the men up into the hills to hunt, but his father won't let him. He tries to join a company off to collect firewood, but his mother says no. With everybody else busy at some special chore, Jesse is without purpose and bound for trouble until he has a flash of inspiration: He and other boys transform themselves into a washtub-and-whistle marching band. Van Leeuwen infuses this feast day with a genuine sense of what a child's life was like on the Oregon Trail. Sorensen's watercolors have the blurred, dreamlike quality of faded photographs, furnishing the proceedings with a sense of events that took place long ago.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803717718
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/01/1997
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.74(w) x 10.82(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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