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The Year of the Ranch (Viking Kestrel picture books) Hardcover – May 1, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As she so eloquently did in Roxaboxen, McLerran once more immortalizes a piece of land in the Southwest by describing a family's emotional attachment to it. Papa's dream of becoming a mesa homesteader in 1919 spurs him to curtail his office job and move his wife and four young daughters to a shack in the desert. While the girls fret about the lack of indoor plumbing, frequent visits from scorpions and tarantulas and the all-around difficult conditions, Papa encourages them with his wonderful vision: "The desert shall blossom as the rose," he says. "Someday... this whole valley will be a garden." Though they all gamely try to adjust, in the end even Papa realizes he'd be better off selling his land and moving back to town. McLerran's sense of family dynamics rings true and her characters exhibit just the right amount of agitation and concern without becoming whiny. Mama's and the girls' support of Papa and their efforts to understand him are a stirring testament to strong love. Root's (Hugh Can Do) watercolors capture the vibrant and ever-changing palette of bright stars and sumptuous sunsets found in the desert landscape. Her scenes of characters pumping water, playing tennis or battening down against a sandstorm evoke a warm togetherness. An author's note contains anecdotes that place the story in both a historical and personal context. Ages 3-8.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3?The year in question in this gentle tributeis 1919. Papa is a business man who believes the desert can be made green through irrigation. So vital is his dream that he decides to homestead a section of land in Arizona and move his family to a small isolated shack outside Yuma. For Mama and the eldest daughter, the hardships are oppressive but the younger three girls, especially Emily, find The Year of the Ranch a grand adventure. When Papa moves on to a new dream of providing educational institutions for the new state, the ranch is left behind but the dream continues to grow and becomes reality. While having all the nostalgic poignancy of the author's Roxaboxen (Lothrop, 1991), this story is missing its clear focus and child appeal. Papa, Mama, and two of the daughters are accessible enough but the other two children are lost in the background. The text is likely to appeal more to adults; however, the pencil and watercolor illustrations add a charm that will appeal to all. This is a strong addition for libraries in the Southwest and schools looking for extra curriculum support for American history units. Though a better read alone than aloud, it could be used effectively to spark conversation about times past, dreamers, or what is to come.?Jody McCoy, Casady School, Oklahoma City
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Series: Viking Kestrel picture books
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1St Edition edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670851310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670851317
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,513,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Seeing the possibilities, facing the hardships of turning Arizona (Yuma) into farmland.

The family comes out to the wilderness to homestead for three years. Mama grudgingly agrees, and she does a good job making a home for the family, but she only cheers up when she sees a way to back out early.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I fell in love with this book. A true story of the hardships of a family who homesteaded in Yuma, Az, on a land where Arizona Western College now sits. Too bad it's out of print and we can't buy it anywhere but online.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I LOVE this story. So fun and the pictures and story make me feel like I was there. The pictures are colorful and fun. The story is informative and a piece of history. Good for anyone young and old.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great Book! My niece is really loving it. She is reading it every night before bed. It really makes her feel good that she is able to read it on her own.
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