cover image I'm Sorry, Almira Ann

I'm Sorry, Almira Ann

Jane Kurtz. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6094-2

The journey, rather than the destination, is the focal point of this amiable tale of the Oregon Trail. Traveling west, eight-year-old Sarah and her best friend, Almira Ann, encounter typical pioneer challenges, from fierce rainstorms to a lost cow. Kurtz's (The Storyteller's Beads) approach, however, is much more individualistic than in many such stories. The lost cow, for example, turns out to be stuck in a ravine; when all else fails, holes are bored in its horns and a rope threaded through them, and the cow is tugged upward to safety (an end note cites a historical precedent). Sarah is a spunky heroine, not without flaws. She can't help comparing herself to Almira Ann and being a little jealous of her skills (plus a little envious of Almira Ann's fancy doll). Her envy inspires her to play a trick on Almira Ann that has dire consequences--Almira Ann breaks her leg, and there seems no way to set it. Somehow Sarah must find a way to make amends. Kurtz enlivens this believable tale of friendship, forgiveness and adventure with snappy dialogue and colorful prose, and she splices in period details nearly undetectably. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)