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The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole Paperback – September 3, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–Recently orphaned in a cholera epidemic, 12-year-old Caleb O'Toole, his two sisters, and their dog flee their Kansas town to seek their Aunt Sarah in Montana as per their dying mother's instructions. Before leaving, Caleb witnesses a murder by the infamous Blackstone brothers, who then pursue him on his journey. Add a mysterious and helpful stranger on a mission of revenge and you've got the elements of a classic western. On the Oregon Trail, the youngsters survive a flood, tornado, buffalo stampede, Indian attacks, thieves, and more. Unfortunately, the characters are one-dimensional and not much is left to surprise. Caleb is an expert horseman and sharpshooter (with a seemingly endless supply of bullets) whose moral values reflect modern sensibilities as he laments the senseless slaughter of buffalo, the plight of the Indians, etc. His adventure is rife with violence, including several scenes of graphic animal abuse. At times, the language is clichéd enough to sound like a dime-store novel from yesteryear (“the brave men and women, these dreamers from all lands, fought like they had never fought before”). Cameos by Chiefs Joseph, Sitting Bull, and Touch the Clouds put the story over-the-top. If readers simply want nonstop action, they'll find it here. For a more realistic, thought-provoking (and no less action-packed) tale about teen orphans on the Oregon Trail, try Victoria McKernan's The Devil's Paintbox (Knopf, 2009).–Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

When the parents of Caleb O’Toole succumb to a cholera epidemic, he and his two sisters set out on their own for their aunt’s ranch, more than 1,000 miles away. In this action-packed debut novel by actor Pierpoint, the kids are dogged by every conceivable trouble on their way to Montana Territory. Pierpoint sets his story in the summer of 1877, when a railroad strike sent travelers back to the difficult Oregon Trail. Caleb and his sisters have to transport as well as protect themselves, and Pierpoint entertainingly describes how Caleb masters sharpshooting while riding a horse. His older sister, Julie, in turn learns how to treat bullet and knife wounds. Although the writing includes some stock phrasings as well as some anachronisms, Pierpont has created a suspenseful, enlightening read featuring worthy allies (including several tribes of Native Americans) and wicked enemies (including a bad sheriff and his murderous brothers). The book comes complete with helpful historical notes and a map showing the O’Tooles’ dangerous journey. Grades 4-6. --Abby Nolan
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402281714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402281716
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Young Mensan BookParade on September 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole is about a boy named Caleb. He is the middle child and has two sisters. Tilly is the youngest. Julie's the oldest. They are forced to leave their home in the cholera-swept town of Great Bend, Kansas. At around 12 years old and without his parents, Caleb is "the man of his family." He must keep his sisters safe on their treacherous journey to the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. Caleb promised his sick mom to keep his sisters safe. Even though there's a band of criminals and thieves on their tails and challenges of the land await, Caleb must stay strong!

Young readers will enjoy this book because it has intensely intriguing scenes. This novel has something for everyone! This book is GREAT! I really enjoyed when Caleb raced and fired a gun trying to win his way in to a wagon train.

The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole is special because it shows that if the O'Toole's family name is to survive, Tilly, Caleb & Julie must stick together! Girls and boys ages 11 -14 will enjoy this book. Caleb's story may seem like it's written for boys, but it shows that no matter if you are a boy or a girl, the Oregon Trail shows no mercy!

Review by Calli T., age 10, Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ward krause on September 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story about the coming of age of a young man named Caleb O'Toole with his two sisters upon the death of their parents is an exciting and historically significant look into the determination and survival skills of pioneers in this country. The characters both, real and fictional, help paint a picture of life in the Old West both unforgettable and heartwarming. I recognize the monumental effort it would take, with years of effort and research, to produce a story on such a grand scale. I enjoyed meeting Caleb, Julie, Tilly, Henderson, and the cavalcade of rough and tumble characters brought to life in this novel for young readers. As a 30 year veteran elementary school teacher, I am always on the lookout for books which help to bring history to life. I would definitely recommend this book to young readers from 5th grade through middle school, but I enjoyed it as an adult as it brought back childhood memories of Daniel Boone, Wyatt Earp, Geronimo, and Sitting Bull, who Caleb actually meets in the book. It would make a terrific family read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kevin hickson on September 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Eric Pierpoint had written an action packed adventure story set in the old west that had me hooked in the first paragraph. Caleb O'Toole with his sisters travel from one hair raising situation to another in this journey along the Oregon Trail. Each turn of the page drew me deeper and deeper into the scene anxious to see what the next page brings. I was not able to put this down until reaching the end. To say I thoroughly enjoyed this book is an understatement. I'm sure you will enjoy it too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan McKeever on January 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be riveting - The words came alive on the page. This is a wonderful book for young people in terms of bringing history to life. It is enjoyable for adults, also, and would be a great book for the whole family to read and discuss. There is much to like about this book. Eric Pierpoint is to be commended for writing such an excellent book, especially his first as an author. I'm looking forward to his next book, which I'm hoping there will be.
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Format: Paperback
WOW! This is a powerful book that simply transports you back in time into a world that I don't think many of today's youth could handle. Talk about living in adverse conditions! I chose to read this book with my eldest, and it really opened up a great dialogue about what it must have been like for Caleb and his family and everything that they had to overcome to simply survive. In my mind I honestly am hoping that it helps her put things into perspective and allows her to see how good kids today have it! The book is action-packed and my daughter really got into it, continuing to ask for one more chapter even when it was time for bed! Also, though I knew the story was fiction, you can tell that the author did a great job at researching the era and he truly put things into perspective for me. This is a great way to encourage any young child to learn about the past as the book is a great read with characters that are dynamic and a storyline that is engaging and fast-paced!

*I received a copy for review - all opinions are my own*
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This yarn is a rootin' tootin' roller-coaster ride from start to finish. Caleb O'Toole and his two sisters, and their fierce little dog Tumble, face dangers of all kinds on their cross-country trip to find their aunt. From wolves and bad weather to Indians and outlaws there are challenges to be overcome at every turn. It takes a potent combination of love, determination, teamwork, honor, friendship, and luck to help them pull through. The action is fast-paced and the characters are colorful. Even though it isn't the kind of book I would normally read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you have a tween boy in your life, a copy of this book would make an excellent holiday or birthday gift. (And if you're lucky, maybe he'll let you read it when he's done.)
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Format: Paperback
I couldn't put this book down. Although this is historical fiction, for children, as an adult I was hooked from the first page. I became a traveler on the Oregon Trail alongside Caleb, Julie, Tilly, Tumbler, Dusty, Pride and the many exciting characters brought to life in Eric Pierpoint's adventurous and daring novel. I have no problem recommending this book to adults and children alike. In fact, as a substitute teacher, I will recommend The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole to my many teacher friends. This is a must read for the empowerment of all children. Mr. Pierpoint has clearly done his research and manages to educate and entertain equally. I know what I'm getting my family and friends for Christmas!
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