Old Crump is a faithful ox who carries four children of forty-niners safely through Death Valley and across the mountains into California. He narrowly escapes being killed for food by the starving travelers, but in the end his faithfulness is rewarded. Although this is apparently based on a true story, there is no citation identifying the source of the diaries and letters mentioned in an author’s note. The intriguing illustrations add details, such as a watchful red-tailed hawk, a dog, and a desert mouse whose antics add interest to the tale, but Australian Winch (The Colt and the King, below, etc.) slips up in his illustration of a meal of “tortillas, beans, milk, and cheese,” which shows heaping plates of green beans rather than the expected frijoles. There are other problems in terms of plausibility. The travelers are reported to have burned their covered wagons and everything in them to keep warm during a cold windy night. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to crawl inside for shelter? In another instance, what looks like a shining lake turns out to be only a pool of brine. “Nothing but a mirage,” the text says. But technically this is not a mirage—there was water, although it was undrinkable. It would be nice to know the true story of these children and the ox, but this tale, like a mirage, is unfortunately not to be trusted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1608-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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