CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 4 . . . . October 20, 2000
The Chicago and Rock Island Express roared into Omaha, Nebraska, one November day in 1896. Clara Maher was the first one off, eager for a gulp of fresh air after two days in the sooty railcar. Clara and her mother had come halfway on a journey that had begun in New York State. The day after tomorrow they would meet Papa in Utah and go on to a new life in California. Her mother hurried into the station to freshen up. Clara set off to explore. "Keep your eyes peeled, coming west," Papa had written. "Out here, you never know what will happen next!"Clara Maher and her mother are travelling west by railroad, on their way to meet her father, when the train is stalled by a huge blizzard. Because it will take days to dig out the train and there is no heat, Clara and her mother must go with a fellow passenger to his home in Brown's Hole to wait until they can continue west. At Brown's Hole, a huge Thanksgiving feast is being put on by some local cowpokes. Imagine Clara's surprise when she recognizes "Bob" from his picture on a Wanted poster - he is Butch Cassidy, the outlaw. It seems that Brown's Hole is a hideout for several outlaws who are giving the dinner to thank the people who have helped them. Butch assures Clara that no harm will come to their unexpected guests. Finally the railroad is cleared of snow, and Clara and her mother can continue their journey. Clara keeps the true identity of their host to herself and now is on the lookout for any more adventures that might befall them.
Former Caldecott winner Emily Arnold McCully has based her book on an actual event that happened in the old West. She researched the story using reference works written by historians, and using maps and timetables from the Union Pacific Museum. The Thanksgiving dinner party really did take place as described, but the little girl and her mother are fictional characters. The author provides an enthralling look at the Wild West as she reminds readers that hospitality can be found in unexpected places.
The very attractive illustrations are watercolor and tempera. Two maps show the names of the railroads, the routes, and the towns along the way.
Luella Sumner is the librarian at Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.