Once again, it’s flashback Friday and do I have a gem fer ya! The author, Karen Cushman, is a wizard at creating strong female lead characters and placing them squarely in interesting hitorical fiction story lines and settings. She clearly demonstrates this ability in her 1996 publication, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. Born California Morning Whipple, she promptly changes her name to Lucy when her widowed mother uproots Lucy and her siblings from perfectly-good Massachusetts, to the rough and dusty town of Lucky Diggins. Set at the time of the Gold Rush, Lucy finds the inhabitants, their gol’ dern language, living conditions, and life with a domineering mother more than she bargained for. She saves every penny she makes selling apple and vinegar pies to finance her trip to escape back to Massachusetts and her grandparents.. But it is life in California that becomes Lucy’s real journey, and through her struggles and triumphs, she not only discovers who she is, but also where she belongs.
This is a great story to accompany a study of the Gold Rush. Cushman deftly illustrates in words life in a Gold Rush town, requiring steely resolve, optimism and the ability to perservere in the face of disappointment and loss.
Written by Karen Cushman
Accelerated Reader Level 5.8
Like Historical Fiction? Try out Cushman’s books set in Medieval Times: Catherine, Called Birdy or The Mid-wife’s Apprentice. These books are best for 5th and 6th grade readers.
Click on the cover photo to order through Amazon: