From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4—Based on diary and journal entries of 19th-century settlers, this story depicts one family's journey by covered wagon from Missouri to California in 1859. Lily Rose continually wonders why people say, "We're going to see the Elephant," when they head west. Working with her grandmother and mother, the girl stitches her experiences into a quilt representing their adventures. The family crosses mountain ranges, copes with harsh weather, and even welcomes a new baby girl into their fold. They come across gold miners, camp out with an Apache chief, and meet kind Pima (Akimel O'otham) people before reaching their destination. The story concludes with a celebration and quilting bee on the one-year anniversary of their arrival. As they sew, Lily Rose sees the Elephant as a metaphor for their journey, and observant readers will see an elephant shape in the final illustration of the completed quilt. Told in a conversational style, this book works best when describing the girl's family and their fears and feelings; the text isn't as effective when detailing their encounter with the Pima, whose beautiful painted faces are simplistically described as "BO-dacious." The folk-art illustrations, which resemble woodcuts, are appropriate for the setting. An author's note provides information on the primary sources.—Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
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"Bubbles over with verbal and visual vim...This iteration of the popular “wagons-west” theme kicks the energy level up a notch above the usual." —Kirkus Reviews
"Dramatic, mixed-media paintings portray majestic landscapes and frontier dangers as well as moments of family merriment." —Booklist
“Her bouncy narration is well matched by the boldly hued pictures that fancifully incorporate bits of patchwork patterns, appliqué, and embroidery into literal renderings of the Western vistas.” —Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books