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Minnow and Rose: An Oregon Trail Story Review by Amy M. O'Quinn

Judy Young
IllustratorBill Farnsworth
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street
Suite 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

Minnow and Rose: An Oregon Trail Story is a new addition to the Tales of Young Americans series published by Sleeping Bear Press. Written by Judy Young and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Minnow and Rose is a beautiful, 40-page hardcover picture book that is set during an important period of our country's history. Between 1843 and 1869, more than half a million people traveled west on the Oregon Trail. This story of 'what could've been' will delight readers and give them a little peek into our fascinating American past.

Minnow, a Native American girl, and Rose, an American pioneer girl, are from two entirely different cultures and lifestyles. Yet, they are both children. And as this charming tale unfolds, we see what the author so passionately portrays--children are children, no matter what culture they are from. They also have a natural curiosity about the world and people around them--especially other children.

Although the historical backdrop of the story is interesting, the book is really about two young girls who learn to communicate without speaking the same language, survive a life-threatening experience, and ultimately form a bond that overcomes all barriers. It's a simple yet poignant story that will tug at the heartstrings and prove, once again, that true friendship knows no boundaries.

I particularly enjoyed this book; the westward expansion movement during the 1800s has always intrigued me. And although I've done a lot of reading and research about this time period, I never realized how much the Native Americans helped the pioneers along the Oregon Trail, especially during river crossings. I also liked the way the author alternated narratives from each girl and interwove little details of daily life within the story.

The illustrations by Bill Farnsworth are realistic yet softly rendered, and they add much to the story. Both the author and illustrator have done a fantastic job with this "living" book, and it would be a great addition to any bookshelf!

Product review by Amy M. O'Quinn, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009