Timmy O'Dowd and the Big Ditch: A Story of the Glory Days on the Old Erie Canal

Len Hilts, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $13.95 (91p) ISBN 978-0-15-200606-8
When cousin Dennis comes from the city to visit with Timmy's family on the Erie Canal, the boys are instantly at odds. In 1840s vernacular, Dennis is a ``dandy'' in Timmy's eyes, and he resents the attention the city boy gets for his artistic skills. Timmy wants to be a captain on the canal, and plans to begin an apprenticeship the next summer. But as the boys become friends, Timmy learns that there are other jobs with less pomp and ceremony but more substance that appeal to him as well. The story accomplishes more than the simple plot indicates: Hilts serves up an exciting slice of the American past without the sentimental mist of nostalgia, and shows how the communities that cropped up on either side of the canal functioned to keep the passageway running smoothly. A glossary, a foreword and historical notes (with bibliography) help readers frame the time period, and give them clues about where to look next for further stories about the Erie ``canawlers.'' Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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