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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
A Book for Black-Eyed Susan

By Judy Young
Sleeping Bear Press

27500 Drake Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

A Book for Black-Eyed Susan caught my eye the moment I saw it. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful! The entire book looks like it is filled with watercolor paintings. The artwork alone is enough to make you want to buy the book; however, the story is just as captivating. It is a touching story about the harsh life of a 10-year-old girl named Cora who is traveling on the Oregon Trail. She faces a very tragic situation due to the circumstances of pioneer living. Cora chooses to put her memories into a keepsake that helps bring some healing to her loss.

This book is part of the Tales of Young Americans Series and is a wonderful way to help children learn about pioneer life and the struggles pioneers faced. It would make a great read-aloud for young children or an independent read for older elementary students. We happened to be studying this time period, and this book was a perfect supplement to our history program. It definitely gave my son some great visuals relating to this time in history.

There are numerous things a child will pick up about the Oregon Trail from the illustrations. As he gets emotionally involved in the storyline and the lives of the characters, he will realize what a difficult life these pioneers had. It's a great way to spark an interest in a more in-depth unit study. In addition, you could incorporate activities such as quilting or book making.

My family definitely enjoyed this book. My 4-year-old was just as engrossed in the story as my 11-year-old. It really made the pioneer way of life realistic to them. I found that the detailed illustrations sparked several different conversations with my children. This is one book I will be keeping until my youngest daughter is old enough to enjoy it as well.

Product review by Heidi Miller-Ford, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April 2011

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