Kirkus Reviews QR Code


From the Tales of Young Americans series

by Judy Young & illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58536-463-3
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

This is a story of heartbreak and resolve, of the punishing tribulations that were once part and parcel of the frontier experience. Caught by Ettlinger in washed-out artwork that is almost biblically sweet and demure, 10-year-old Cora wakes to a new day on the Oregon Trail and learns that her mother has just died giving birth. Time to mark her grief is brief; all too soon the grave marker dwindles into the horizon as Cora, her father and the newborn—named Susan by Cora, for her black eyes—must move on. Then comes a second wrench, when Susan and Cora are separated, as it is not feasible for her and her father alone to look after Susan. But Cora has made for her a book of quilted-cloth pages, the tale of their family’s life told through fabric scraps found in their mother’s sewing box. This is by no means small emotional potatoes, with loved ones disappearing right and left as if there was no gravity. Young’s telling is raw but tempered by an oblique approach to the cruelest moments and softened by a lovely chance encounter years later, the type of encounter that would only happen if one took the time and effort to fashion a book from the scraps of a life with little comfort and fewer promises. (Picture book. 6-10)