The School at Crooked Creek

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Beansie loves his free and simple life with Ma, Pap, and his sister, Louisa, on their Indiana homestead. But now his parents want him to go to the new log cabin school, where he'll be cooped up inside all day. How will he and Louisa find their way to school and back? How will Beansie cope with rough boys such as Oliver Sweeny, who can outrun, outlick, and outholler anybody?

In this heartwarming and homespun chapter book set on the central ...

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Beansie loves his free and simple life with Ma, Pap, and his sister, Louisa, on their Indiana homestead. But now his parents want him to go to the new log cabin school, where he'll be cooped up inside all day. How will he and Louisa find their way to school and back? How will Beansie cope with rough boys such as Oliver Sweeny, who can outrun, outlick, and outholler anybody?

In this heartwarming and homespun chapter book set on the central Indiana frontier in the 1820s, a young boy finds courage and his way.

The School at Crooked Creek

"Living in a one-room cabin at the edge of a wood with Ma, Pa, and his older sister is just fine with six-year-old Beansie. But three months of attending school for the first time sounds as pleasant as being a catfish choked to death on a sandbar. Set in central Indiana in the 1820s, this short chapter book depicts frontier life from a young boy's point of view...It's a folksy, funny portrayal of the time and place."

Living on the nineteenth-century Indiana frontier with his parents and irritable older sister Louise, six-year-old Beansie dreads his first day of school, but his resilience surprises even his sister.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Six-year-old Beansie (short for Bartholmew) is frightened. He has to find the cow wandering through the central Indiana forests and there are panthers, bears, perhaps even Indians, in the Indiana woods. He also has to avoid bullies and have his first experience with school in a three-month term starting in January. And, he has to figure out why his older sister is so intent on getting rid of her freckles. In telling this short story, Lawlor uses authentic expressions of 1826 (some of which are helpfully explained in a glossary), similes and metaphors that will seem fresh and apt to young readers, but a bit shopworn to those with more experience (i.e. "colder than a dog's nose;" "did not trust her as far as he could throw a bull by the tail;" "searching the snow like a dog sniffing out a trail"), and plenty of description. Descriptive detail of the forest, leaves, animals, ease in getting lost, loneliness of the settlers, and ways children participated in the family provide good background for Beanie's working out his problems. In addition, she has obviously researched the way settlers lived, what they ate, and how schools looked. While the gentle plot will not compel reluctant readers who would most likely be much older than the main character, those who persist would enjoy the setting. The truth of hardscrabble existence for early pioneers rings true as the six year old has to help with chores, hold up his end in not complaining, and learn quickly what behaviors work to make friends. In a nice twist, the timid Beansie is the one who keeps cool in a snowstorm and leads his sister to safety, not the competent bully who "knows the woods like the back of his hand." Ronald Himler's pencilillustrations reflect the action and the shape of the characters. But he seems reluctant to give the people much depth, except for two charming drawings of the troubled Beansie. This story fleshes out the time period for third or fourth graders studying early pioneers, but the vocabulary challenges most second graders for whom the story might have the most appeal. An author's note on sources and a glossary end the 80+ page novel. 2004, Holiday House, Ages 6 to 10.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This short, solid chapter book is set in 1820s rural Indiana. Narrated by six-year-old Beansie, it tells of his first, reluctant experience with school. It is mid year, but he and his sister, Louisa, were needed at home to do chores. The anticipation of the first snowfall, the teacher with no patience for little boys, and the friends and bullies at recess are all described in vivid detail. Beansie and Louisa make the long trek, get through their first day, and on the way home become lost during a snowstorm. Beansie is the brave one, and the siblings make it safely to a neighbor who gets them warmed up and on their way. The book is rich with colloquial language, superstitions, and information about the lifestyle of this pioneer family. Nicely done shaded, pencil drawings help set the tone. This novel will work well for curriculum ties, and may spark interest in the period when read aloud.-Sharon R. Pearce, Chippewa Elementary School, Bensenville, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
To Beansie, the prospect of school seemed "as pleasant as being a catfish choked to death on a sandbar." Going to school means losing the freedom of the woods, and for nine-year-old older sister Louisa, it means constant kidding about her freckles. Besides, in 1820s Indiana, the mile-long walk to school means dark woods, panthers, snow, and "Injuns." School means characters with such Dickensian names as Master Strike, Oliver Sweeny, and Skunk Breath. Lively writing, abundant details about homestead life, and old-fashioned words and expressions sprinkled throughout the text make this a fine introduction to the period as well as a solid story of a brother and sister learning to help each other feel important. Beansie, by the end, doesn't feel so puny and "no-count" after all, and even school might not be so bad. (glossary, author's note) (Fiction. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781457521188
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/11/2013
  • Pages: 76
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.18 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2004


    Bartholomew is a pretty long name for a short six-year-old boy, and so he's called Beansie. He may be 'no bigger than a cake of soap after a week's wash,' but Beansie has to do man-size work because he lives on an Indiana homestead in the 1820s. He's happy at home with Pap, Ma, and his nine-year-old sister, Louisa. Well, not always happy with Louisa who has red hair and a temper to match. She loves to tease her brother and seems to take special joy in clunking on the downstairs ceiling with a broom to awaken him in the morning. One of Beansie's chores is to fetch Bess, the family cow, so they'll have milk for breakfast. Beansie wasn't too fond of doing that as he had to go into the woods to find Bess, as he had no idea what else might be hiding there - maybe even Indians! But even more fearful to Beansie than the mysteries of the woods was Pap's announcement that he and Louisa would soon be starting to school. He didn't want to be stuck inside some log cabin all day. Further, how in the world could he and his sister ever find their way home from a school that was a mile away? As if all of that weren't enough to make Beansie's knees knock there was also the thought of being in close proximity to Oliver Sweeny, known as the strongest boy for miles around. Young readers will surely relate to Beansie's reservations about the first day of school, and cheer him on as he meets the challenge head on (in more ways than one).

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