The True Story of a Trip West
The fictionalized voice of George Bennett tells the story of the perilous journey of his family on the Overland Trail, through Death Valley, and to California in 1850. The family is forced to leave their possessions behind and to burn their wagons to stay warm during the cold nights. Only difficulties lie ahead. Old Crump, a cooperative Ox, carries the youngest children in makeshift saddlebags while the older members of the party struggle along on foot. Readers will enjoy scenes of escaped tragedy and this account of a journey facing doom.
This picture book is based on a true story of a party of “forty-niners” who were unlucky to have taken the wrong shortcut, but fortunate to have brought an ox with them that was as courageous as he was faithful.
Reviews and Comments
“… a solid introduction to the historic journey to the West. [The illustrator, John Winch] plays up the drama of nature’s perils, favoring a predator’s-eye view and thus subtly emphasizing the desert’s dangers. The illustrations set in the artist’s characteristic folk-art-style figure against photographs of the Valley’s lunar rocks and sands.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Winch’s illustrations are an interesting blend of photographs and original art; paintings. … A hawk is pictured on almost every spread, watching the travelers. … the book will make an interesting addition to other works about the Westward movement.” (School Library Journal)
“Lawlor draws on a true story … a group of forty-niners, traveling in 1850, takes a shortcut from Utah to California and winds up wandering through Death Valley. … Old Crump … carries the family across the desert to safety. … Lawlor’s text [depicts] the emotions of the travelers, the fear of being lost, and the relief of finding a new home.” (Booklist)
written by Laurie Lawlor
illustrated by John Winch
Holiday House, 2002
Please look for this book at
your favorite public library
or used bookseller.