The Little Pioneer

Adam Hancher. Doubleday, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1792-6
“In the fall of 1849, Papa passed on.” Right from the start, Hancher’s account of a fictional family’s westward trek acknowledges the difficulties of life on the frontier. Narration comes from a redheaded girl who describes her journey across the plains to California with her mother and brothers, one of four families making the trip together. Along the way, the girl’s attitude toward Mr. Reed, the “gruff old mountain man” who is captaining the wagon train, softens; he rescues her when she gets washed into a surging river and teaches her skills that come in handy when she is separated from the group. Despite these hazards, the book generally strikes a romantic tone, due in large part to Hancher’s illustrations—his dusty, windswept landscapes emphasize the enormity of the journey and the vastness of the terrain the pioneers cross. Native Americans are never seen or mentioned, an omission that further leaves this tale feeling overly romanticized and divorced from historical realities. The artwork is charming and the narrator’s growth rewarding, but it’s not enough to offset the story’s drawbacks. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 01/02/2018
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-1-5247-1793-3
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