Saturday, May 24, 2008


"I'd coaxed a wild-eyed colt to take a saddle, and climbed the oak by my grandmother's barn higher than all the boys, cloud-catching high. I was not afraid of anything, so when my papa said, 'We're going west to Oregon,' I begged to drive the oxen team across the endless prairie."

Meet Hallie, the strong main character whose family's westward journey is beautifully captured in The Buffalo Storm, by Katherine Applegate. Hallie's close relationship with her grandmother threatens this spirit of adventure, as she doesn't want to leave her grandmother behind. Before leaving, her grandmother gives her paper to write down the details of her journey, and a quilt, to cuddle up in if it's stormy.(Ironically as I write this it is rainy, sparks of lightning and thunder enlivening the night).

My favorite thing about this book is the writing. The text is especially poetic, full of lovely language and powerful metaphors. The wagon's top gleams "like a bread loaf ready for the oven," and later joins other wagons, "like beads slowly stringing." With powerful imagery and a tender tilt on family, change and facing your fears this book has stuck around longer than the library might have liked to loan it to us. Any book featuring strong women is a book I want to bring into this house and keep for awhile so we can be reminded of what we are capable of.

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