The School at Crooked Creek
[Books]   [About the Author]   [Speaking and Author Visits]  [Curriculum Connections]   [Contact the Author]

    Old Crump: The True Story of a Trip West

    The fictionalized voice of George Bennett tells the story of the perilous journey of his family, over 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.

    "The sun was beating down on Death Valley. Water was nowhere in sight. The food had run out days before. Other oxen bucked, kicked, and ran off, but Old Crump trudged on, carrying four children across the desert. This picture book is based on a true story of 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." -- quoted from the publilsher (Holiday House).

    Reviews and Comments "... a solid introduction to the historic journey to theWest. [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 the artist's characteristic folk-art-style figures 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

    "This 'true story' [is said to have been] recorded in diaries and letters," ... listeners will ...simply enjoy." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

    "Lawlor draws on a true story ... 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

    Listed as a "Best Book of Spring 2002" in Nancy Polette's picks for the best picture books of Spring 2002." She describes Old Crump The True Story of a Trip West." as "An outstanding picture book!"

    Old Crump: The True Story of a Trip West. Illustrated by John Winch. (2002) Holiday House. ISBN: 0823416089. 32 pg. Picture Book/Historical Fiction.

[Other Historical Fiction Books] - [All titles by Lawlor] - [Curriculum Connections - List all titles]