OLD CRUMP by Laurie Lawlor

OLD CRUMP

The True Story of a Trip West
by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8

KIRKUS REVIEW

Old Crump is a faithful ox who carries four children of forty-niners safely through Death Valley and across the mountains into California. He narrowly escapes being killed for food by the starving travelers, but in the end his faithfulness is rewarded. Although this is apparently based on a true story, there is no citation identifying the source of the diaries and letters mentioned in an author’s note. The intriguing illustrations add details, such as a watchful red-tailed hawk, a dog, and a desert mouse whose antics add interest to the tale, but Australian Winch (The Colt and the King, below, etc.) slips up in his illustration of a meal of “tortillas, beans, milk, and cheese,” which shows heaping plates of green beans rather than the expected frijoles. There are other problems in terms of plausibility. The travelers are reported to have burned their covered wagons and everything in them to keep warm during a cold windy night. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to crawl inside for shelter? In another instance, what looks like a shining lake turns out to be only a pool of brine. “Nothing but a mirage,” the text says. But technically this is not a mirage—there was water, although it was undrinkable. It would be nice to know the true story of these children and the ox, but this tale, like a mirage, is unfortunately not to be trusted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-8234-1608-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2002




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