cover image TO THE FRONTIER


Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, E. Cody Kimmel, , illus. by Scott Snow. . HarperCollins, $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029117-4

With this launch title in The Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill series, Kimmel (Ice Story: Shackleton's Lost Expedition) will hold the interest of fans of the frontier and convert newcomers to its lore and history. The author, who was brought up to believe her family had some genealogical tie to her subject, follows eight-year-old Bill from Iowa to the newly established Kansas Territory in 1854. Kimmel hints at the mounting tensions between abolitionists and those wanting slavery permitted in Kansas. The narrative smoothly sets this theme into an equally compelling story of one family's hardships and everyday joys. As the novel opens, Bill's older brother has died under the weight of a spooked horse he had been riding, and later, when the family makes a claim in the new territory, Bill must tame a wild horse in order to work the land, stirring his mother's anxieties and painful memories. Other details, such as Bill and his sister pretending to be Lewis and Clark, and neighbors joining in a house-raising, make the rendering of frontier life seem authentic yet timeless. The men who influence young Bill are drawn as well as the children, especially Bill's long-lost cousin and Bill's father. While this novel stands solidly on its own, readers will eagerly anticipate the following installments, to watch young Bill become the man of American legend. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (May)