Brief Description: Boy journeys from coal mines in WV to lumber town in CA. Strange story, not really historical fiction. Do not recommend
Historical Era: 20th Century
Date Range: 1965?
Original Publication: 1969
Suitable for Grades: 2-4th
Target Audience: Easy Reader
What a strange book! At the time I purchased it from Amazon I assumed, based on its well-known author and the front cover illustration of the horse drawn carriage, that it would firmly belong in the historical fiction genre. I was wrong!
The story takes place sometime after 1965, when nine-year-old David’s mother convinces his father to change careers from dangerous coal mining to (equally dangerous) lumber milling. The father heads west to California to scout for a job. When the rest of the family relocates, they employ a mule wagon to carry their belongings down from their curiously isolated West Virginia village, but then they take a train and then an airplane(!) to get to California. But the story certainly doesn’t delve into any historical events or the everyday life of a long ago time period.
Instead, the story revolves around grandma, having decided not to move, making one more batch of pickled watermelon rinds for her grandson to deliver to her son. David misses his father during his absence and looks forward to the reunion. And David is tasked with the important job of carrying the big jar of pickles during the cross country journey. And that about sums it up.