Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book review: The Jumping-Off Place

I love LibraryThing. I especially love the Early Reviewer program because I get free books. The books I've gotten have ranged from this-is-a-waste-of-time to absolutely wonderful. My most recent book is toward the latter end of the spectrum.

I began to read The Jumping-Off Place by book light in a camp bunk with barely a glance at the cover. There was a lovely old-fashioned quality to the writing and the characters that surprised me until I looked more closely the next day and realized that the book was written in 1929.

This is a wonderful story, set in one of the last bits of the frontier after the turn of the twentieth century. Four orphans, having just lost their beloved uncle, travel to South Dakota to "prove up" his claim. They face hardships--drought, blizzard, wind, and an adversarial neighbor--with maturity, hard work, generosity, and an unquenchable spirit. In the process they fell in love with the prairie and the community and it with them.

This is an excellent book for all ages. It would make a very nice family read aloud, particularly because there is some lovely prose. The original illustrations have been retained and enhance the historical feel of the book. The South Dakota State Historical Society has added an afterword with historical background and author information and a word list, adding to the educational value of the book.

This 1930 Newbery Honor Book was a joy, and I am very glad that the SDSHS Press has decided to return it to print.


Marie N. said...

It sounds like this would be good for Jr. High ages too -- is that right?

Jane said...

Yes, it would be very good for that age.