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THE GREAT BIG WAGON THAT RANG by Joseph Slate

THE GREAT BIG WAGON THAT RANG

How the Liberty Bell Was Saved

By Joseph Slate (Author) , Craig Spearing (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7614-5108-0
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

A farmer from the countryside and his great big wagon carry the Liberty Bell to a safe hiding place. Having come to market in Philadelphia, as they start off for home, all that’s left in the wagon is some hay. But their way is blocked by a giant bell that soldiers are lowering to the street—redcoats are coming to melt it down and use it for shot. The farmer doesn’t hesitate; he tells the soldiers to put the bell into his wagon and cover it with hay. Then he begins his dangerous nighttime journey to the bell’s hiding place. He passes redcoat camps, and even gets stopped once. He tells the soldiers that the wagon is filled with hay and empty boxes, and they send him on his way. Finally he reaches the church of Zion where the bell will remain until the redcoats leave for good. While the story is an interesting one, there is no satisfying rhythm to the telling; some of the stanzas rhyme, while others do not. Also inconsistent is the use of The House That Jack Built format. Spearing’s (Prairie Dog Pioneers, 1998) illustrations look like colored woodcuts that fit the mood of early American art. From the clapboard houses and the signs that hang in front of them, to the ships in the harbor and the period clothing, he sticks to authentic details and keeps his pages uncluttered, effectively focusing the reader’s attention. An author’s note explains the beginnings of the Conestoga wagon in America, and a few historical details about the actual event. (Picture book. 7-10)