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Ox Cart Angel Paperback – August 11, 2011
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About the Author
J. A. Arnold lives in Minnesota with his wife, two kids, two cats, a dog, and a rat. He enjoys history and travel. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications.
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Top Customer Reviews
The captivating storyline carried me from the first page to the last. At times I was on the edge of my seat and others I was sad, enraged, and awed. More than once I found myself starring blankly at my Kindle screen. Mr. Arnold has a way of painting beautifully detailed scenes and situations. He sets the reader up for deeper thoughts and knocked me out of the story - in a good way. Themes of pioneer days, racism before it was called such, survival, family, beliefs, society were all presented in this middle grade book. I couldn't help but stop and reflect. An author with this skill - especially for young readers - is a fantastic find.
I hope Ox Cart Angel finds its way into classrooms. It needs to be there. A few of the scenes are tense and some may verge on disturbing for very young readers, but I feel it would be a wonderful addition to any unit on homesteaders, Native American history, Minnesota history, racism, survival, or the Civil War. Fifth, sixth, seventh grade teachers (and up) please check out this story.
I also encourage Mr. Arnold to add a map to this tale if possible. I would have liked to track Claire and Xavier's journey.
For anyone looking for a wonderful story I encourage you to pick up this book. I hope you'll love it as much as I did.
The story starts out with a girl, Claire. Claire is Métis, her mother being Indian and her father French Canadian. After the death of her mother, Claire finds out her father wants to pick up and move from the little town of Pembina to the big city of St. Paul. She does not want to leave the only home town she has grown up in and the friends she loves, but she has no choice. Her father has decided to sell what they can and move his photography business to St. Paul. All they can afford is an old, half blind ox the town children call Bone Bag and a rickety old cart. Having missed leaving with the big wagon train of Métis, but hoping on catching up with them, Claire and her father set out on their difficult journey.
Along the way, Claire refuses to leave her mother's wedding gown, so she wears the dress almost the entire trip, even though it is uncomfortable, as Claire feels the dress is one of her last connections to her mother. As this little crew runs into people, they start to comment on how she appears to be an "angel." Their trip with the old ox and cart is long, monotonous and oftentimes dangerous. This story is about all of the people they run across, the good and the bad, the adverse situations they have to deal with and the unknown future that awaits them. This is also a story of a relationship between a daughter and a father and how hard times make young people take on grown up responsibilities and how these responsibilities turn children into adults.
It took me a while to really get into the story of Ox Cart Angel, but when I did, it was so filled with interesting characters that the father/daughter team met along the way, it was hard to put down. Arnold's writing was so descriptive it was easy for me to picture all of these people in my head. Each new situation the little ox cart team ran into was like another tiny story within the story and it was fun to see what these little side stories were about. I found the book very creative and original, not like any other book I have read set in that era. I think once a reader gets to know the characters and gets into the story, the rest of the book is so entertaining it just flies by. I was excited to see a sequel is in the works for this story as there is so much more that can be written here. I can't wait for the next installment! I have to agree with the previous reviewer, this book NEEDS to find its way into a classroom, boys and girls both would like this book and teachers would find it a perfect read!
This novel was received in eBook format from the author in exchange for an honest review.