May 28, 2010

Pioneer Books We Loved

Johnny Appleseed by Jane Yolen.

At first Miriam and the other children were a little offended by this book. Yolen had the temerity to intersperse the truth about Mr. Appleseed in between verses of a song about him. By the end though, we were all won over. It is a clever way to present a biography. Besides that, we all learned things about Johnny we didn't know before.

Papa and the Pioneer Quilt by Jean Van Leeuwen.

We loved the pictures. We loved the story. We loved the father and his wandering feet and the little girl who hopes his feet will settle down. It was definitely one of our very favorites.

Apples to Oregon: Being the Slightly True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (AND CHILDREN) Across the Plains by Deborah Hopkinson.

I don't even know where to start with this book. It was perfect. READ IT IMMEDIATELY. That's all I have to say about that. Okay, I have a little bit more to say. This book is written in tall tale fashion about a man who loves his fruit trees to distraction and, with the able assistance of his plucky daughter Delicious, manages to keep the trees alive all the way to Oregon. It has some wonderful pictures and it is just fun. Read it.
Nine for California by Sonia Levitin.

These last three books were Miriam's favorites. They are about the same family as they move west and have adventures. The first book is all about their traveling west by stagecoach. I liked that because most of the pioneer books feature covered wagons, so this provided me the opportunity to talk about other ways people traveled. Besides that, the mother had a bag (bag-of-tricks, or precursor to the diaper bag) that held the perfect thing for every problem that arose. The mother in this book rocks. I don't think my children appreciated, as I did, the ingenuity required to keep five or so children occupied for a month long stagecoach trip. Shoot me now was pretty much what I was thinking the whole time we were reading it.

Boom Town by Sonia Levitin was the best of the three. It showcases how a town comes into being. First there were gold miners, then there was Amanda's wild success at selling pies to the miners, then there was a laundry, a blacksmith shop, a bank, a school. The town grows around Amanda because she started making pies. Loved it.

While it is a stand alone book, it is more fun if you've read the first one and recognize some of the earlier characters.

Taking Charge by Sonia Levitin.

This is a book about asking for help when you need it and not letting pride create problems. Amanda's mother leaves their little boom town for a few months to take care of her mother. Amanda is left in charge of baby Nathan, who wasn't walking when the mother left, but was running and creating havoc by the end. At first, Amanda doesn't ask for help because she wants to prove she can handle it. By the end, she's learned that it takes a village to contain baby Nathan. It had a good moral, it was a cute story, and my children loved it because they loved the first two. It reminded me of the summer my parents were building a house and I was in charge of my youngest two siblings (and sort of the other two just younger than me, but not really). I ran around like crazy after Wyatt because he kept starting fires in garbage cans. He was a maniac. But, due to my focus on Wyatt, Lindsay is the one who escaped. Barely controlled chaos. This book really captures that "out of my depth" feeling.

All of these books are available through the Davis County Library System.

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