Kirkus Star


Age Range: 8 - 12
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Cannon (On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 650, etc.) returns after several years with an engrossing, detailed, thoroughly real story of faith, family, and community. Twelve-year-old Charlotte and her father are part of a band of several hundred Welsh Mormons making an arduous journey to Utah in 1856. The Mormon Church sponsors the trip, but cannot afford to make it easy on the pilgrims: after a ship to Boston and a train to Iowa City, the families, organized into bands of 70 people, must push their belongings across the prairie in handcarts. Impetuous, lively Charlotte still grieves for her mam, who died not long before the trip began, and recites the names of her dead brothers and sister, "David. Robert. Owen. William. Ann," as a way of reminding God that they were important to her. On the ocean voyage, Charlotte finds a small doll and carries it about for several days before seeking out its owner, but at the start of the pushcart section she finds a better substitute for all she's lost: a newborn baby whose mother, a friend of Charlotte's, dies in childbirth. The baby's father is too grief-stricken to even look at the child, and Charlotte defies the women of her group by insisting that she will carry it to Utah, she will care for it and love it. And she does. Caring for the infant, whom Charlotte names Rose, is more difficult than Charlotte expects, but she conquers all obstacles with believable spirit and the help of the women who surround and support her, and who, in the end, help her make the right decision about Rose's future. Pinpoint historical details never overwhelm the force of the story, emotions ring true throughout, and the large cast of characters comes vividly to life, none more than Charlotte, strong and lovely. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-72966-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random