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Jan Lieberman (Children's Literature)
The women of the gold rush were resourceful, hardworking, adventurous and unappreciated. Karen Cushman lets us experience the life of one family in The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. Mrs Whipple, a widow, arrives in the shabby mining town of Lucky Diggins with her 4 children. To make ends meet, she opens a boarding house where her daily life is nothing but hard work and her only helper is her daughter Lucy, aka California, the eldest of the 4 children. Lucy, an avid reader, would rather spend time under a tree writing letters and reading. She is feisty, and obsessed with her dream of returning "home" to Massachusetts. But this is a ballad and like all ballads this will be read and reread to savor the moments of joy, sadness, humor, tenderness, and love in the life of the Whipples. 1996, Clarion, $13.95. Ages 10 up.
Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
In the summer, it is hot and dusty; the land is so parched that water has to be hauled to keep the vegetable garden from shriveling up. In the winter it is freezing cold with icicles hanging down from the tent after a freezing rain. That's the way it is in the gold fields of California where Lucy and her family are trying to find their own new lives after their Pa died. Lucy longs for Massachusetts, but her mother seems to thrive on the challenge offered by life in the West. Lots of interesting characters and descriptions of the hard life facing the miners and others whose livelihoods are part of the gold fever make for an amusing and informative look at California and the struggles of one girl to find herself and a place to call home. 1996, Clarion, $13.95. Ages 11 up.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1996)
The recent Newbery medalist plunks down two more strong-minded women, this time in an 1849 mining camp--a milieu far removed from the Middle Ages of her first novels, but not all that different when it comes to living standards. Arvella Whipple and her three children, Sierra, Butte, and 11-year-old California Morning, make a fresh start in Lucky Diggins, a town of mud, tents, and rough-hewn residents. It's a far cry from Massachusetts; as her mother determinedly settles in, California rebelliously changes her name to Lucy and starts saving every penny for the trip back east. Ever willing to lose herself in a book when she should be doing errands, Lucy is an irresistible teenager; her lively narration and stubborn, slightly naive self-confidence (as well as a taste for colorful invective: "Gol durn, rip-snortin' rumhole and cussed, dad-blamed, dag diggety, thundering pisspot," she storms) recall the narrator of Catherine, Called Birdy (1994), without seeming as anachronistic. Other characters are drawn with a broader brush, a shambling platoon of unwashed miners with hearts (and in one case, teeth) of gold. Arvella eventually moves on, but Lucy has not only lost her desire to leave California, but found a vocation as well: town librarian. With a story that is less a period piece than a timeless and richly comic coming-of-age story, Cushman remains on a roll. 1996, Clarion, $13.95. Starred Review. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
K. Millburg (Parent Council Volume 4)
Lucy has unwillingly come with mother and her brother and sisters to Lucky Diggins, California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Lucy is miserable living in the tents among the dirty, rough miners. All she really wants is to return home to Massachusetts to her grandparents and books. This historical fiction presents a fascinating time in our history through the eyes of a child. 1996, Clarion Books, $13.95. Ages 8 to 12.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In a voice so heartbreakingly bitter that readers can taste her homesickness, California Morning Whipple describes her family's six-year stay in a small mining town during the Gold Rush. Her mother, a restless widow with an acid tongue, has uprooted her children from their home in Massachusetts to make a new life in Lucky Diggins. California rebels by renaming herself Lucy and by hoarding the gold dust and money she earns baking dried apple and vinegar pies, saving up for a journey home. Over years of toil and hardship, Lucy realizes, somewhat predictably, that home is wherever she makes one. As in her previous books, Newbery Award winner Cushman (The Midwife's Apprentice) proves herself a master at establishing atmosphere. Here she also renders serious social issues through sharply etched portraits: a runaway slave who has no name of his own, a preacher with a congregation of one, a raggedy child whose arms are covered in bruises. The writing reflects her expert craftsmanship; for example, Lucy's brother Butte, dead for lack of a doctor, is eulogized thus: "He was eleven years old, could do his sums, and knew fifty words for liquor." A coming-of-age story rich with historical flavor. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)
Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 1996 (Vol. 50, No. 1))
Bodaciously sorrow-burdened and wretched," California Morning Whipple has been transported by her free-spirited, widowed mother to Lucky Diggins, California, where they will run a boarding house out of an oversized tent; California Morning (call her "Lucy," please) intends to return to the home of her civilized New England relatives just as soon as she can sell enough pies to earn her coach fare. As Lucy pours out her miseries in letters to grandparents and aunts and cousins, the reader quickly recognizes the girl's kinship with the less-than-couth 49ers she initially despises and senses from her feisty narration ("I liked writing letters. There wasn't much else to do for fun in Lucky Diggins if you didn't dig or drink") that she will eventually put down roots here. Over the course of three years, Lucy matures from adolescent to young woman, loses a brother and gains a stepfather; Lucky Diggins itself booms and burns, and its itinerant population commits to making the settlement into a town. While Cushman delicately limns the ever-strengthening bond between Lucy and her new home, the episodic story lacks momentum, and the host of intriguing characters (a runaway slave, an abused neighbor girl, the amorous Gent who woos but fails to win Lucy's mother) who influence her decision to stay are shallowly developed. Surely the death of brother Butte and Mama's departure with her new husband could have been more touching had the reader been afforded the opportunity to know them better. Still, the audience wholeheartedly shares Lucy's satisfaction when at last she smells "burned beans and mules and privies . . . as familiar as morning" and proudly reclaims her birth name, California Morning Whipple. Ad--Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1996, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1996, Clarion, [208p], $14.95. Grades 5-7.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.C962 Bal 1996