Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express

Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express

by Michael P. Spradlin, Layne Johnson
     
 

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Follow the heroic Pony Express riders as they travel from Missouri to California and back again across the American West! Through dry desert heat, to freezing mountain blizzards, amidst a harrowing buffalo stampede and with hungry wolves on their trails, nothing will stop these intrepid messengers from delivering the mail.

Just in time for the Pony Express's 150

Overview

Follow the heroic Pony Express riders as they travel from Missouri to California and back again across the American West! Through dry desert heat, to freezing mountain blizzards, amidst a harrowing buffalo stampede and with hungry wolves on their trails, nothing will stop these intrepid messengers from delivering the mail.

Just in time for the Pony Express's 150 year anniversary, Michael P. Spradlin and Layne Johnson bring to life in precise historic detail the world of the Wild West and those who dared to travel it.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
The romance of the Pony Express is part of the history of the West, but the reality is much more difficult to track down. According to author Spradlin, little is known about the riders outside of the first landmark ride that began on April 3, 1860. On that date Johnny Fry left St. Joseph, Missouri, for Sacramento, California, with a pouch of eighty-five pieces of mail. Eleven days later Billy Hamilton was greeted in the streets of Sacramento by cheering crowds who heard about the riders and gathered to witness history. This picture book follows the route of the riders day by day as they move Westward, giving readers a sense of what life would have been like for the young men who rode the ponies for the seven months that the Express was in business. More than anything else it is that one statistic that should be remembered; the Pony Express began in April, 1860, and completed its last business on November 21, 1861. This book is well organized and well researched, providing historical details and dispelling romantic suppositions. In addition to an insightful "Author's Note," there is a listing of other resources that can be used for further research. This is a terrific resource for both elementary and middle school libraries. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This colorful and accessible picture book recounts the day-to-day adventures of Pony Express riders on the first transcontinental mail delivery system, from St. Joseph, MO, to Sacramento, CA. The book opens with a map of the overland route, a time line of major events in the Express's short-lived history (1860–1861), and a quote from Mark Twain's Roughing It. On the unprecedented journey, which took roughly 11 days, riders faced extremes in weather, buffalo stampedes, wolves, and encounters with Native tribes. The straightforward text in combination with the larger-than-life panoramic oil spreads capture the romance, excitement, and danger that riders experienced along the trail. An author's note explains that truth and legend are often intertwined when researching the Pony Express due to the destruction of records upon the cessation of service. Balancing the right amount of information with lively narrative, this book could easily be used in a history unit or as a general interest title.—Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
In this rousing, as-historically-accurate-as-possible recreation of the Pony Express's first ride, Spradlin introduces readers to the crazy-wild brainchild of three businessmen to expedite mail over the near-2,000 miles from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif. Accompanied by Johnson's artwork, which has the energy of rolling thunder and the colors of a sunset, and with an engaging sense of drama and urgency, the author follows the riders over the varied landscapes they covered, through the heavy weather they encountered and past the occasional hostile reception they received from Native Americans (though his bell-clear author's note clarifies that hostilities were rare). When he can introduce factual material-the names of riders, the number and character of station stops, the price of $5 for ½ ounce-he does so with a light hand to keep the pedagogy at a distance. For all its iconic status, the Pony Express lasted for only a year and a half before the transcontinental telegraph drew a sleeve across its windpipe, but it was an inventive enterprise full of bodacious frontier spirit, which this book plays to the hilt. (bibliography, further reading, map, timeline) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802796523
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
02/16/2010
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.90(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

MICHAEL P. SPRADLIN is the author of several books for children and teens, including Walker's Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen and Daniel Boone's Great Escape, as well as the Youngest Templar series with Putnam. He lives with his family in Michigan.
www.michaelspradlin.com

LAYNE JOHNSON has illustrated more than a dozen picture books for children, including the acclaimed Farmer George Plants a Nation and Christmas for a Kitten. He lives in Texas.

www.laynejohnson.com

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