Pappy's Handkerchief

Pappy's Handkerchief

by Devin Scillian, Chris Ellison

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In 1889, young Moses and his family sell everything they own and leave their Baltimore, Maryland, home to join many other settlers--black and white--in a race to claim land in the newly-opened territory of Oklahoma.See more details below


In 1889, young Moses and his family sell everything they own and leave their Baltimore, Maryland, home to join many other settlers--black and white--in a race to claim land in the newly-opened territory of Oklahoma.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This title in the �Tales of Young Americans Series� is the story of Moses and his family, former slaves trying to make new lives for themselves. They learn of the federal government�s plan to open up the Oklahoma Territory and allow any American to attempt to stake a claim to land. As their friend Liberty explains to Moses and his father, in America �a man isn�t really free until he owns the land he lives on.� They trade their fish stall for a wagon and two horses and begin their journey. Along the way, the family faces dangers from the elements and from other would-be settlers who try to discourage them from taking part in the rush. But when the time comes for the canon to be fired, will Moses� family and the other Negroes be allowed to participate? And when the wagon crashes into a creek bed, will Moses be able to gain victory for his family? Beautifully detailed paintings capture the rich emotions in the story of the impact of one young man and his family on this part of American history. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4
In Oklahoma in the late 1880s and '90s, would-be settlers were offered free land if they staked a claim on a designated day and agreed to farm it for five years, after which they owned it outright. Narrated by young Moses, this story follows a black family from Baltimore who risk everything and suffer many tribulations in order to get to the Oklahoma territory line. When the older members of the family are incapacitated for various reasons, it falls to Moses to retrieve the family's fortunes and race to stake the claim with his grandfather's handkerchief tied to a pole. This history of a unique and interesting part of the settling of the West is illustrated in beautiful paintings of warm, soft browns, yellows, and blues that complement the narrative, together creating a fascinating look at the past. It's a handsome, oversize volume that is certainly worthy of consideration by most collections to enhance a unit on Western history and an understanding of an important facet of African-American history, as well.
—Judith ConstantinidesCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
An African-American lad saves his family's bacon in a tale set during the Great Oklahoma Land Run. Struggling to make ends meet and hearing of a chance for a fresh start out west, Moses's father trades in his fish stall for a wagon, and packs up the extended family for the long journey from Baltimore to Oklahoma. Overcoming obstacles both natural and human, the hopeful clan arrives to join the huge crowd at the starting line-but in the mad scramble after the gun goes off, Moses' father breaks his leg when the wagon plunges into an unseen stream bed. It's up to Moses, then, to take one of the horses and a handkerchief marker and ride ahead to choose and stake a good claim. Ellison provides painterly, full-page illustrations of dark-skinned, grave-looking figures in period dress, captures the drama of the hard gallop at the climax and closes with an aerial view of the handkerchief waving atop a pole over a cluster of farm buildings. Actually, as the author points out in his foreword (where he also briefly alludes to the hardships suffered by Native-American groups in the Oklahoma Territory), there were five Land Runs between 1889 and 1895; here he presents a composite to highlight the fact that many African-Americans seized the chance to start new lives. (Picture book. 8-10)

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Product Details

Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date:
Tales of Young Americans
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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