During the Great Depression, seventeen-year-old Moss Trawnley is his family's sole breadwinner. When he gets fired, he "rides the rails" in search of his father. Both land in jail and the justice of the peace urges Moss to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to acquire job skills. Moss enrolls, and although the conditioning is grueling and the discipline strict, he perseveres. After basic training, Moss and his buddies begin building a camp in Montana that will focus on restoring depleted farmland. They work feverishly to complete construction, and Moss's leadership earns him a promotion, much to the dismay of Bill Compton, his junior leader. When spring arrives, the CCC deepens a pond and creates a spillway to control erosion. But heavy rains fill up the reservoir and chunks of concrete break loose. Only extraordinary efforts by the CCC prevent a disaster. His relationship with girlfriend Beatty finally on solid ground, Moss re-enlists for another hitch. Although Ingold's book provides a detailed depiction of President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, it lacks dramatic tension. The conflict between Moss and Compton is an aside to the fleshed-out descriptions of CCC activities and conservation projects. The characters are one-dimensional, and even Moss is somewhat lackluster. His tentative relationship with Beatty adds no romantic sparks either. As a historical documentary story, however, the book gives vivid snapshots of the Great Depression and earns a spot in a school's media center. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).2005, Harcourt, 288p., $17. Ages 11 to 15.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2005: When Moss Trawnley, age 17, loses his job at an airfield in Texas in the depths of the Depression, he heads out to Montana to try to find his father and make sure he gets money to their family back in Louisiana. But Moss's father is an unemployed drunk, he discovers, and so Moss ends up signing up for a hitch with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana so that he at least can have a roof over his head and send some money home to Ma. Set up by President Roosevelt, the CCC took on conservation projects across the US, planting trees and helping to restore depleted farmland--but first Moss and the other young men must build a camp, and learn to work together. Moss makes new friends (including an attractive girl), becomes a leader at the camp, and learns what hard work and teamwork can accomplish, despite some stumbling blocks along the way. Set in 1936, this tale features some of the characters from Ingold's Airfield, though it can stand alone. As with the author's other historical fiction (The Big Burn and Pictures, 1918), it is carefully researched and features sympathetic young protagonists. Ingold does a good job of making the time and place come to life and she shines a light on a little-known aspect of the Depression. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Harcourt, 274p. bibliog., $6.95.. Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 7 Up-Despite the Great Depression, 17-year-old Moss Trawnley, introduced in Airfield (Harcourt, 1999), thinks he has it made-a decent job, a girlfriend, and admittance into radio school with almost enough money saved to pay for it come fall. He is even able to help his mother support his younger siblings. All this changes when he is fired in order to give the job to a man with a family who is related to the boss. Moss leaves Texas by hitching a ride on a freight train. Trying to locate his father, he finds him in Montana-drunk, jobless, and homeless. He himself is picked up for vagrancy. With neither job prospects nor money and to avoid another arrest, he joins the Civilian Conservation Corps. The work is hard, but it provides a place to live, food, and money to send home. Hitch is essentially a coming-of-age story. Moss, who from the beginning has shown a sense of responsibility, must now make adult decisions about how to react to adversity and discord within the CCC as he assumes a leadership role, albeit reluctantly. His growth from an impulsive teen into a thoughtful young man is told in a compelling manner. Plot and description transport readers into another time and place with accuracy and interest as Moss's true character is revealed. A good read from a masterful storyteller.-Janet Hilbun, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Branded a no-good like his father, Moss Trawnley joins the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. It's a job and a way to give his life direction. There's nothing glamorous about it, just mopping floors, scrubbing showers, toilets and sinks, burning trash and cleaning latrines. But eventually, Moss realizes he's having a hand in something important: Building reservoirs, helping farmers, planting forests and building parks and wildlife refuges. Multiply his work by all of the other CCC projects and you have something big going on, sponsored by President Roosevelt's New Deal. Ingold's passion for her subject, crisp narrative and lively dialogue carry this fine story of a young man finding a way to make a difference in a difficult time. A good match with her The Big Burn (2002) also set in Montana. (bibliography) (Fiction. 12-14)
"Compelling . . . A good read from a masterful storyteller."--School Library Journal
"Readers will readily be caught up in the camp's trials and successes through to the dramatic ending . . . Wholly appealing."--The Bulletin