||Aug 11, 2011
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Ox Cart Angel blog
Historical, multi-cultural fiction for grades five and up, featuring the Ox Cart/Red River trails of the 1800s.
Winner of the Midwest Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of 2011, Ox Cart Angel is set in 1862, the year of the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. Claire Dumont and her father set out on a journey from the Dakota Territories, hoping to catch up to the large caravan of Métis fur traders that left the day before. Their destination? The bustling city of St. Paul, where Papa wishes to open a photography studio. But with only Bone Bag, their one-horned ox, to pull their squeaky cart, they soon realize they may have to make their treacherous journey alone. Braving bad weather, packs of wolves, dangerous river crossings, starvation and exhaustion, Claire and her father try their best to survive the deeply rutted ox cart trails.
If I had known how much my life was about to change, I would have spent that last day in Pembina differently. I would have said goodbye to my friends and visited the places that reminded me of Mama, especially the elm tree where she was buried. I would have sat at her grave telling her how much I missed her, and that I’d come back someday to visit.
But since I didn’t know any of that, I spent most of that day with Freda Two-Feathers, who was a half-breed like me.
Papa hated that word. “You are Métis,” he’d say. “You are not half of anything, Claire.”
Ox Cart Angel
Do you ever find yourself finishing a book and loving it so much you refrain from reading for a while? You don't want to pick up another title because it may erase the wonderful feelings you currently have. Ox Cart Angel did that to me. I simply loved this book.
The captivating storyline carried me from the first page to the last. At times I was on the edge of my seat and others I was sad, enraged, and awed. More than once I found myself starring blankly at my Kindle screen. Mr. Arnold has a way of painting beautifully detailed scenes and situations. He sets the reader up for deeper thoughts and knocked me out of the story - in a good way. Themes of pioneer days, racism before it was called such, survival, family, beliefs, society were all presented in this middle grade book. I couldn't help but stop and reflect. An author with this skill - especially for young readers - is a fantastic find.
I hope Ox Cart Angel finds its way into classrooms. It needs to be there. A few of the scenes are tense and some may verge on disturbing for very young readers, but I feel it would be a wonderful addition to any unit on homesteaders, Native American history, Minnesota history, racism, survival, or the Civil War. Fifth, sixth, seventh grade teachers (and up) please check out this story.
I also encourage Mr. Arnold to add a map to this tale if possible. I would have liked to track Claire and Xavier's journey.
For anyone looking for a wonderful story I encourage you to use one of the links above and pick up this book. I hope you'll love it as much as I did.
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