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Tree in the Trail Paperback – April 30, 1990
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Children will likely not to be able to read these books for themselves, but the adult reading to them will find the time well-spent and entertaining.
I read it to my twin 5 year old grandchildren and they loved it too. They were very interested in the mail tree on the trail and on our walk to church we found an old trunk that had been hit by lightening. We were all very excited to see this after reading about it in the book.
We enjoyed these with our homeschooled children and now use them in unit studies with others we tutor. They are great to use for younger students to launch history and geography studies. (We can recommend getting the Beautiful Feet geography maps that supplement these books...more expensive than a map print off from the internet but so beautifully constructed that the project becomes something the child and family want to keep.)
The Holling stories ARE from a 1950's perspective, and they ARE from a secular viewpoint, so you do get some old fashion "campfire" mythology. You also get old-fashion American pioneer enthusiasm for adventure and an opportunity to reflect on the full panorama of American life without all the modern cynicism...very refreshing for many of us. We simply chose the panorama as opportunity to discuss our family values as need be.
Tree in the Trail tells the tale of social development in the Southwest from Indians to missionaries to white settlers. The "campfire" mythology of the tree is more prevalent than Paddle to the Sea or Seabird, but still remains only a backdrop and does reflect how some Indian mythology while not embraced was acknowledged and passed along by many of the early white settlers.
Tree in the Trail did feel a little longer than Paddle to the Sea and Seabird, but only by 2 pages. I felt I could have skipped the last 2 page non-illustrated denouement.
Of this series, I can't recommend Minn of the Mississippi. It is written in a much more difficult reading style, assumed some secular science which would require higher reasoning discussion for families than the series style generally supports (although the illustrations Holling uses came from a opponent of Darwinism), and the story in Minn of the Mississippi simply was a far less engaging and had far less useful side-bar lessons.