Long Ago in Oregon

Long Ago in Oregon

by Claudia L. Lewis, Joel Fontaine

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like pearls on a string, each of the poems in this volume can be treasured alone, but together they are stunning. A record of a year in the life of a little girl in Oregon at the end of World War II, the poems recall the people and places lovingly but without gloss. We see the narrator running through the ``Gobble blossoms'' in the mustard field, watching the saw ``slice through wood/ as easily/ as a knife cuts cake,'' and imagining her first long skirt. Christmas, friends, laughterall are mingled with her first awareness of hatred and of death. As touching as the poem about Miss Baldwinwho ``pushed words'' out of a boy who had never read beforeis one in which the children realize that the distant war could touch home. ``Our father, shooting and killing, and maybe/ shot down?/ We were deathly still./ Terror had moved near/ and hunched there,/ pushing/ on our door.'' Fontaine's black-and-white drawings, slightly blurred like old memories or photographs, add luster to an unforgettable book. Ages 8-12. (August)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-9 These 17 autobiographical poems describe the family life and activities of a young girl in a small town in Oregon during 1917 and 1918. The sound of the woodsaw, images of snakes being burned, the mingled embarrassment and pride when Mama performs a recitation, and the fears generated by the coming of World War I are all clearly captured here in brief glances. All of these moods are eloquently portrayed in Fontaine's soft pencil illustrations which enhance the sense that each poem is a ``photograph'' of a small event or feeling. This is made clear when the last poem, ``Moving to Salem'' is accompanied by a series of framed drawings designed to look like snapshots in an album. Used with Cynthia Rylant's Waiting to Waltz (Bradbury, 1984) these poems could help children to capture images of growing up in other times and places. Readers who enjoyed Patricia Beatty's Just Some Weeds in the Wilderness (1978; o.p.) and Hail Columbia (1970; o.p., both Morrow) as well as Beverly Cleary's Emily's Runaway Imagination (Morrow, 1961) might enjoy experiencing a different period in Oregon history. In addition, the poems about the First World War's impact on this family illuminate a period which has not been explored in children's literature. Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
A Charlotte Zolotow Bk.
Edition description:
1st ed
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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