COVERED WAGONS, BUMPY TRAILS by Verla Kay

COVERED WAGONS, BUMPY TRAILS

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A pioneer family travels from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in a covered wagon some time in the 19th century. The five-month journey is briefly described in rhyming couplets beginning: “Covered wagon, / Bumpy road. / Plodding oxen, / Heavy load. / Mother, Father, / Baby John, / Bouncing, jouncing, / Moving on.” Along the way there are storms, mountains, deserts, and snowstorms, till at last the new homestead site is reached, where the land is cleared, and a sturdy cabin built. Not bad for five month’s work. The author concludes: “Sturdy windows, / Heavy doors, / Warm and safe now, / Happy snores.” The humorous, softly colored illustrations have an appealing folk quality and give a panoramic view of the landscape as they sweep across the double page. Illustrations follow the text and show the wagons moving from the green, wet prairie, up craggy, rocky paths and through parched dry deserts till they come at last to the California meadows lush with wild flowers. The illustrations are even more cheerful than the text. Travelers, says Kay, were “Weary, bleary, / Sweaty, hot,” but it sure doesn’t show. Upbeat and buoyant, the text and illustrations only hint at the awesome adventure, danger, or difficulty of the journey. Traveling west by covered wagon was no picnic, and this cheerful picture-book presentation tends to obscure rather than illuminate the difficulties of the historic journey west. Diane Stanley’s Roughing It on the Oregon Trail (p. 722) does a better job of capturing the flavor of the journey by wagon train. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-22928-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000




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