Go West, Young Women!

Kathleen Karr, Author HarperCollins Publishers $14.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-027151-0
The Petticoat Party series rolls out creakily with this lumbering tale of a wagon train that leaves Independence, Mo., in the winter of 1845, bound for the Oregon Country. In one of the 12 wagons rides the Brown family, spurred on by the promise of free land and suitable husbands for daughters Amelia and Phoebe. In an often stilted narration apparently attempting to mimic the parlance of the period, 12-year-old Phoebe tells how the party's 10 menfolk all tumble off a steep bluff while hunting buffalo. Six die and four are seriously injured, including Mr. Brown, whose character is reduced to a voice growling from the back of a wagon. Addressing the other women, Phoebe's mother announces it is time to ""take charge of our own destinies."" And indeed they do, under the direction of a spinster schoolmarm who pulls off such unlikely feats as fetching two ludicrously vacuous twins from a Pawnee camp after they run away from the wagon party to marry two would-be braves. Unfortunately, Karr's (Oh, Those Harper Girls!) pioneers have covered but 650 miles when they arrive at Fort Laramie at the close of this episode; a long 1400 remain till they reach their destination. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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