To the Frontier

To the Frontier

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by E. Cody Kimmel

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Buffalo Bill wasn't always a world-famous legend. Before he was everyone's favorite Pony Express rider and star of his own Wild West Show, Bill was a real pioneer: a boy who hopped on a wagon and blazed a new trail with his Ma, Pa, and sisters.

And a wild ride it is! The frontier is packed with real-life adventures more exciting than Bill had ever imagined. He

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Buffalo Bill wasn't always a world-famous legend. Before he was everyone's favorite Pony Express rider and star of his own Wild West Show, Bill was a real pioneer: a boy who hopped on a wagon and blazed a new trail with his Ma, Pa, and sisters.

And a wild ride it is! The frontier is packed with real-life adventures more exciting than Bill had ever imagined. He learns how to break a wild pony with the help of a genuine mustanger and even builds a cabin with nothing but an ax, a hammer, and some nails. But the west is a dangerous place, and Bill has to find out the hard way just how wild it can be.

The first book in an ongoing adventure series about young Buffalo Bill, To the Frontier sweeps readers back into the exciting and troubled world of America's frontier past.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Set in the mid 1800s, these two launch titles in the Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill series "will hold the interest of fans of the frontier and convert newcomers to its lore and history... as young Bill becomes the man of American legend," according to PW. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Newcomer Kimmel stays close to the historical record, but leaves the adventure out of this fictionalized account of the Cody family's 1854 move from Iowa to the then-turbulent Kansas Territory. Bill, at eight the eldest surviving son, spends the episode wavering between the urge to play "Lewis & Clark" or some other game with his lively sister Julia, and a desire to be given adult responsibilities. As for Julia, after a younger sister in her charge nearly drowns-the only danger anyone here faces, except for a brief incident near the end-she stops resisting her mother's and older sister's pressure to act like a lady is supposed to. Though she drops the terms "jayhawker" and "bushwhacker" into the mix without defining them clearly, Kimmel lays out the simmering controversy between pro- and anti-slavery factions at length. Other issues, such as Indian removal-or, for that matter, even the hardships of travel and of building a new home in strange country-are largely glossed over. Already-scheduled sequels may compensate for this series opener's slow pace and blind spots, but fans of such action-oriented western tales as Brian Burk's Wrango (1999) or Gary Paulsen's Tucket tales may not wait around. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

LeClaire, Iowa

Nothing would ever be the same.

From high in the branches of the old elm folks called the Green Tree Hotel, Bill Cody looked down at the great river just a stone's throw away. In the morning he would be leaving Iowa, the only home he had ever known. The Mississippi River had been his companion and teacher for as long as he could remember. He had learned most every thing he knew about the world here in the branches of the Green Tree, watching the steamboats go by and listening to the stories of the river pilots strolling below -- stories of the lands they had seen on their travels, of thriving towns, pioneers, and Indians.

There was a time Bill would have given anything to leave LeClaire and travel west to see some of those sights himself. But now that his family was preparing to do just that, packing all their belongings into two prairie schooners to begin a new life, Bill didn't feel excited, or even happy. He had barely been able to feel anything since his brother, Sammy, had died.

Ma had told Sammy a hundred times not to ride that horse. Bill himself had sensed Betsy was overly spooky and skittish that day, and thought about telling Sammy so, but what twelve-year-old boy ever took advice from a brother four years younger? So Bill kept silent, and Sammy climbed onto Betsy's back. When she reared up, Sammy held on tight, laughing when she failed to throw him. But then she reared again, so wildly she landed right on her back, Sammy still in the saddle. And there was no doctor, in LeClaire or anywhere, upriver or down, who could save Sammy then.

Pa talked about the opportunities thatawaited them in the West. How it wouldn't be long before the government passed a law allowing families to settle in the Kansas and Nebraska territories, across the Missouri River. How they would have their pick of the good, rich land and be able to stake a claim and build a new house from the foundation up. But what Pa didn't talk about, what no one talked about, was the real reason for the move. That whatever waited for them in the new territories, there would be none of the constant reminders of Sammy that were everywhere here in Iowa. That was a lure more powerful than any promise of a new life.

�Anybody home?� a voice called from below. Bill's enormous mastiff hound, Turk, gave a welcoming bark from his position at the foot of the tree.

Bill didn't have to look down through the branches to know it was his friend Joe Barnes. They had grown up together and often spent time in the Green Tree Hotel. Bill watched Joe scramble expertly up the tree, and he made room on the wide branch. They sat in silence for a time.

�The Kate Kearney went down,� Joe finally said, his gazed fixed somewhere on the Illinois bank of the river.

�She get herself snagged?� asked Bill about the steamer.

�Boiler blew,� said Joe. �She went up in flames in seconds, the captains are saying. Over on the Missouri River.� Joe paused. �Guess you'll be there yourself before long.�

Bill nodded. He and Joe had made plans, pretty much as soon as they had learned how to talk, to become river pilots together. A boy growing up on the banks of the river called the Father of Waters couldn't want for a better job. River pilots did the most glamorous and dangerous work anywhere. Some of the best river pilots in the country lived right in LeClaire, their huge houses towering over Main Street, reminding everyone in town of their importance.

Bill and Joe had intended to apprentice themselves as soon as they were thirteen or fourteen. It would be hard work; it would take years to learn the trade -- to memorize every inch of water, every bend, every tree and woodpile clear down to New Orleans. But like the river channels themselves, plans had a way of changing.

�I guess there's no chance . . .� Joe's voice trailed off.

�Nope,� Bill replied. �The house is sold, and the papers signed. As long as the sun rises, we're leaving tomorrow. For good.�

There was nothing that really needed saying, so Joe simply nodded. The sunlight on the river was growing soft and orange. Bill's stomach gave a rumble.

�Guess I better be getting on home then,� Bill said.

�Guess you'd better,� Joe said. Bill swung down onto a lower branch and dropped to the ground. Turk leaped to his feet and gave Bill's hand a warm lick.

�Hey, Bill?� Joe's voice called from the branches.

Bill looked up.

�See ya round,� Joe said.

�See ya,� Bill replied. Then, turning his back on his friend and their river, he and Turk began to walk home.

Truth was, Bill had never really thought about LeClaire until now. It had been home most of the time, except for the year they'd lived in the big stone house upriver while Pa cleared land for Mr. Brackenridge. But Bill had only been three, and didn't remember much of it.

As he walked up Main Street in the shadow of the grain and lumber mills, Bill tried to draw a picture of LeClaire in his mind -- something to take with him when he left. The barrels and brooms lined up just so outside the dry-goods store. The hot smells and sharp sounds of the blacksmith shop. The candy store and bakery. The streams of visitors passing through the great front door of the Hotel Berlin.

Some distance away there was someone sitting over on the big boulder Bill sometimes pretended was his stagecoach. Stepping off Main Street and walking closer, he saw it was his older sister Julia. She looked lost in thought, but her face quickly broke into a smile at the sight of him.

�Care to take the reins?� she asked, holding the imaginary leather straps out...

To the Frontier. Copyright � by E. Kimmel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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