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THE YEAR OF THE RANCH by Alice McLerran

THE YEAR OF THE RANCH

By Alice McLerran (Author) , Kimberly Bulcken Root (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-670-85131-0
Publisher: Viking

 Set in 1919 on a homestead on a desert mesa outside Yuma, Arizona, this is a charming re-creation of a year in the life of McLerran's grandparents. Emily's father believes that the ``desert shall blossom as the rose'' and he wants his family (Mama, Carol, Emily, Sarah, and Jane) to be part of it. With home a makeshift shack, they cook on a kerosene stove with water from a well and get used to an outhouse; in the meantime, Papa keeps his office job until they establish a homestead. The family drinks tea from a silver pot, builds and outlines a tennis court with white lime, and creates Christmas wreaths from greasewood. Mama is ready with a syringe of medicine in case anyone is bitten by a snake, and they devise a special fate for scorpions. The experiment comes to a close before the year is out, when the family moves back to town. This affectionate vignette is peppered with the sort of small details that make it believable and absorbing. Root's paintings superbly extend the understated story. Well-placed watercolors evoke the colors of the changing desert as well as the mood of the family as they face their many travails. (Picture book. 3-8)