Lumber Camp Library

Overview

To Ruby, her log-riding lumberjack pa is the most wonderful person in the world. There's nothing she'd rather do than follow in his footprints, but a lumber camp is no place for an eight-year-old girl.

So Ruby goes to school. There she discovers another passion — the world that opens up to her in books.

When circumstances suddenly change, Ruby fears she has lost the two things she loves most. But through her ...

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Overview

To Ruby, her log-riding lumberjack pa is the most wonderful person in the world. There's nothing she'd rather do than follow in his footprints, but a lumber camp is no place for an eight-year-old girl.

So Ruby goes to school. There she discovers another passion — the world that opens up to her in books.

When circumstances suddenly change, Ruby fears she has lost the two things she loves most. But through her struggle, she discovers in herself the courage, kindness, and talent that she always admired in her father.

Ruby wants to be a teacher, but after her father's death in a logging accident she must quit school to care for her ten brothers and sisters, until a chance meeting with a lonely old blind woman transforms her life.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
All Ruby wants to do is be with her Pa. As a young girl, she spends all of her time following her Pa around in the lumber camp where he works. But when Ruby turns 10, her mother wants her to go to school, and perhaps become a teacher one day. After many objections about leaving her Pa, Ruby succumbs to her mother's request, with the help of her Pa, who suggests that she might teach him to read and write, and her 10 brothers and sisters, as well. But a tragic accident one day changes Ruby's life forever—and she fears she has lost the things in life she loves most. A chance meeting with a lonely, old woman opens Ruby's eyes to new opportunities. This is a darling book, quite appealing, but some characters are mentioned only briefly in the beginning that one forgets who they are when they are mentioned later in the book. At other times, information is presented that begs the question, why it is mentioned. The illustrations are slight, and the story could use more, or no illustrations are needed at all. Too few doesn't appear to add to the text. 2002, HarperTrophy, Ages 8 to 10.
— Carol Rados
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-This spare and moving chapter book will hook readers from the first page. Ruby Sawyer, born in 1912, has lived her whole life in a Vermont lumber camp, where she idolizes her Pa, a logger. Then he is killed in an accident, and Ruby, her Ma, and her 10 siblings must move to a small house near town. In the midst of her loneliness and sorrow, the 10-year-old meets Mrs. Graham, a kindly blind woman who lets Ruby read her books. When the child begins teaching some of the loggers to read, she is on the path to discovering her life's work. While the "lumber camp library" of the book's title is not established until nearly the last page, the narrative builds effectively to that point. This story is gentle enough for beginning readers without glossing over the more difficult details of Ruby's life. The novel is long enough to get readers involved, but moves along quickly enough to hold their interest, and they will be transfixed by the strong and spirited Ruby.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kinsey-Warnock (A Doctor Like Papa, above, etc.) highlights love of reading and the desire to learn in this short, wholesome tale of hardship and friendship, set in early 20th-century Vermont. Ruby leaves her beloved lumberjack father to ride into town to school each day then returns to "school" her ten younger siblings. But after his death, she has to drop out to help the now-struggling family make ends meet. Fortunately, not only do the lumberjacks hire Ruby's Ma to cook for them, but a group asks Ruby herself to teach them to read-and better yet, the family is befriended by Aurora Graham, a retired nurse with a large house full of books. In a quick but satisfying conclusion, the author sends Ruby on to become a teacher in later life, and after her retirement to found a town library for future generations of avid readers. Like Lucy Whipple, Ruby may take an occasional wrong turn, but she meets challenges squarely, and finds her vocation with the help of a rough community that recognizes and supports her talents. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064442923
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/4/2003
  • Edition description: First HarperTrophy Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 698,548
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock is the author of sixteen distinguished books for children. These range from her first novel, The Canada Geese Quilt, an ALA Notable Book, to her popular picture book The Bear That Heard Crying. All of the stories have one thing in common: They are based either on the author's own life or on true stories passed down through the seven generations of her family that have lived in northern Vermont.

When she isn't writing, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock keeps herself busy as an athlete, naturalist, artist, book lover, bagpiper, and rescuer of three horses, seven cats, and eight dogs. She and her husband live in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

James Bernardin is a versatile and prolific illustrator of many acclaimed books for children. He has illustrated Laura Numeroff's Would I Trade My Parents?, Eve Bunting's Too Many Monsters, and Candy Chand's The Twelve Prayers of Christmas. He has also created artwork for numerous book covers, including Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey series.

James lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington State with his wife, Lisa, and two sons, Wyeth and Bryson.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ruby was born in 1912 in a lumber camp in the northern hills of Vermont. It was a bitter January night with drifts as high as the roof.

Pa hitched up one of the workhorses and drove six miles through the snow to fetch the doctor, but Ruby got there before the doctor did.

Pa cradled the new baby in his rough hands that cut timber all day long.

"My jewel," he said, "my little jewel," and named the baby Ruby.

As Ruby grew, she followed Pa everywhere. Pa seemed as much a part of the woods as the trees themselves. He taught her the names of the birds and the trees. She learned the tracks of bobcat and fox. Pa showed her where the wild ginger and lady slippers grew. Ma teased her about being Pa's little shadow, but Ruby didn't mind. She liked being Pa's shadow. Pa was her sun and moon and the stars in-between, and anything he was doing, why, that was what she wanted to be doing, too.

In the years to follow, ten more sisters and brothers were born — Lillian, Marvin, Irene, Mabel, Albert, June, Lewis, Margaret, and the twins, Wilson and Ben. Pa loved them all, but it was Ruby he called his little jewel to the end of his days.

All winter long, Pa and the other lumberjacks cut down trees and piled the logs beside the river. In the spring, when the ice went out and the water was high, the logs were floated down the river to sawmills far away. It was Pa's job to make sure logs didn't get caught on rocks or bends in the river. If they did, the logs would pile up into a terrible jam. Pa then had to try to untangle that jumble of logs. Sometimes it took dynamite to blow a jam apart.

Some loggers died under fallingtrees or behind teams of horses, but it was the river that was the hardest and most dangerous place to work. The men worked all day, waist deep in icy water, lifting logs off sandbars and prying logjams apart. But it was the place Pa loved best. And he shone in riding the logs down the river.

All rivermen could stand on a log and ride it down through rapids, but Pa rode logs the way most men sit a chair. He made riding logs through churning water look like the easiest thing in the world. Pa could do handstands and somersaults on the log, and he could lie down on it while it went over the falls. That log would be bucking like a horse, and Pa would lie there with his eyes closed as if he were taking a nap. Ruby never tired of watching him.

Like other rivermen, Pa wore boots with sharp metal spikes in the soles to help them ride the logs. One day, Pa showed Ruby a pair of old rotting boots hung on a tree beside the river.

"These were Jake Bowman's," Pa said. "Whenever a riverman drowns, it's custom to hang their spiked boots on a tree to mark the spot. It's our way of paying tribute."

A gray j ay squawked from a nearby tree, and Pa jumped. It wasn't like Pa to be startled.

"What's the matter, Pa?" Ruby asked.

"Most lumberjacks are a superstitious lot," Pa said. "They call those jays 'moosebirds' and believe them to be the souls of dead lumberjacks. It's said you must never harm a moosebird or terrible things will happen to you.

Ruby watched the jay flit off through the trees.

"Do you believe that, Pa?" she asked. "Do you think that jay was Jake Bowman?"

"Well," Pa said slowly, "I'm not sure I believe that, but I let 'em be. You know, those birds are pests in camp. They'll steal bacon right out of the frying pan and carry off anything that catches their fancy, especially something brightand shiny. I had one steal a button right off my coat once, but I've never hurt one. I like 'em. You won't see 'em in towns; they're a bird of lonely places, a creature of the north woods." Pa grinned.

"Kinda like me," he said.

Lumber Camp Library. Copyright © by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

Lumber Camp Library

Chapter One

Ruby was born in 1912 in a lumber camp in the northern hills of Vermont. It was a bitter January night with drifts as high as the roof.

Pa hitched up one of the workhorses and drove six miles through the snow to fetch the doctor, but Ruby got there before the doctor did.

Pa cradled the new baby in his rough hands that cut timber all day long.

"My jewel," he said, "my little jewel," and named the baby Ruby.

As Ruby grew, she followed Pa everywhere. Pa seemed as much a part of the woods as the trees themselves. He taught her the names of the birds and the trees. She learned the tracks of bobcat and fox. Pa showed her where the wild ginger and lady slippers grew. Ma teased her about being Pa's little shadow, but Ruby didn't mind. She liked being Pa's shadow. Pa was her sun and moon and the stars in-between, and anything he was doing, why, that was what she wanted to be doing, too.

In the years to follow, ten more sisters and brothers were born -- Lillian, Marvin, Irene, Mabel, Albert, June, Lewis, Margaret, and the twins, Wilson and Ben. Pa loved them all, but it was Ruby he called his little jewel to the end of his days.

All winter long, Pa and the other lumberjacks cut down trees and piled the logs beside the river. In the spring, when the ice went out and the water was high, the logs were floated down the river to sawmills far away. It was Pa's job to make sure logs didn't get caught on rocks or bends in the river. If they did, the logs would pile up into a terrible jam. Pa then had to try to untangle that jumble of logs. Sometimes it took dynamite to blow a jam apart.

Some loggers died under falling trees or behind teams of horses, but it was the river that was the hardest and most dangerous place to work. The men worked all day, waist deep in icy water, lifting logs off sandbars and prying logjams apart. But it was the place Pa loved best. And he shone in riding the logs down the river.

All rivermen could stand on a log and ride it down through rapids, but Pa rode logs the way most men sit a chair. He made riding logs through churning water look like the easiest thing in the world. Pa could do handstands and somersaults on the log, and he could lie down on it while it went over the falls. That log would be bucking like a horse, and Pa would lie there with his eyes closed as if he were taking a nap. Ruby never tired of watching him.

Like other rivermen, Pa wore boots with sharp metal spikes in the soles to help them ride the logs. One day, Pa showed Ruby a pair of old rotting boots hung on a tree beside the river.

"These were Jake Bowman's," Pa said. "Whenever a riverman drowns, it's custom to hang their spiked boots on a tree to mark the spot. It's our way of paying tribute."

A gray j ay squawked from a nearby tree, and Pa jumped. It wasn't like Pa to be startled.

"What's the matter, Pa?" Ruby asked.

"Most lumberjacks are a superstitious lot," Pa said. "They call those jays 'moosebirds' and believe them to be the souls of dead lumberjacks. It's said you must never harm a moosebird or terrible things will happen to you.

Ruby watched the jay flit off through the trees.

"Do you believe that, Pa?" she asked. "Do you think that jay was Jake Bowman?"

"Well," Pa said slowly, "I'm not sure I believe that, but I let 'em be. You know, those birds are pests in camp. They'll steal bacon right out of the frying pan and carry off anything that catches their fancy, especially something brightand shiny. I had one steal a button right off my coat once, but I've never hurt one. I like 'em. You won't see 'em in towns; they're a bird of lonely places, a creature of the north woods." Pa grinned.

"Kinda like me," he said.

Lumber Camp Library. Copyright © by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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