Mississippi Mud: Three Prairie Journals

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9780060244323: Mississippi Mud: Three Prairie Journals

Poems reflecting the points of view of three pioneer children describe their family's journey from Kentucky to Oregon

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About the Author:

Ann Turner is the author of many novels, picture books, and poetry collections for young children. Her novel A Hunter Comes Home was an ALA Notable Children's Book of 1980, and her first picture book, Dakota Dugout, received the same honor in 1985. Among her other books are Rosemary's Witch, a School Library Journal Best Book of 1991 and Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies, a Reading Rainbow selection. Ms. Turner lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, with her husband Richard, and their two children, Benjamin and Charlotte.

In Her Own Words ...

I was one of those children who sniffed, slept on, and sometimes ate books. Once a week my father would go to the library and bring back seven books, one for each day of the week. I would open my mouth like a baby bird to devour food. I really think I would have died, had I not had books.

I wrote my first story when I was eight, about a dragon and a dwarf named Puckity. I still have it and use it when talking to children. The story shows that children have tales to tell, and ones worth telling. I was encouraged in my writing through school and college, but was afraid I could not do it. I trained as a teacher and taught for one year, but quickly decided that I would rather write books than teach them. I tried my hand at poetry for two years and had one poem published.

It wasn't until my mother, an artist, suggested that we do a book together about vultures that I tried writing for children. So my first book was about natural history, and I loved learning about vultures and watching them in Florida.

The queerest thing about writing is how a story chooses you, instead of you choosing it. I often feel as if I am walking along quietly, minding my own business, when a story creeps up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. "Tell me, show me, write me!" it whispers in my ear. And if I don't tell that story, it wakes me up in the morning, shakes me out of my favorite afternoon nap, and insists upon being told.

Writers write for the same reason readers read - to find out the end of the story. I never know the endings of my stories when I start out; I must wrestle my way through them, punching out unnecessary words, arguing with self-important paragraphs, until I arrive at the end thirsty, tired, but victorious. This tells you, of course, that writing is not easy for me. Once in a blue moon it is, but most of the time it is hard, hard work. And I work every day. I sit down at my computer and write. It could be about anything, or anyone - my husband, Rick, my children Ben and Charlotte, or the woods that surround our house in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Remember that you have stories to tell, too. Remember that you have a voice that is worth being heard. Write your stories down, keep journals. Learn to be a spy. I am a nosy, curious spy who eavesdrops on people at the beach, or as they stroll along at the mall. I always wonder; "Why is she walking so fast? Is she mad? How come his mouth looks like that? What is that lady saying to her child?" If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will see that you are surrounded by drama and astonishing things, even in the midst of everyday life. Notice it; write it down, and who knows, maybe someday you will be a writer, too.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2-6?To describe this book simply as a collection of poetry would be an injustice. This is historical fiction in the form of verse. The poems portray the feelings, experiences, and observations of three pioneer children in a family leaving a barren farm in Kentucky for the hope of free, rich soil in Oregon. The images Turner creates are stunning. The lone survivor of an ambush comes out of an ox-hide tent "foot first, like a babe born the wrong way." The sky is as "pink as our baby's face." In "Jake," a poem about the family dog who trotted beside the wagon until his body simply wore out, the young narrator tersely reveals his grief with honest emotion. "Columbia" describes the birth of the youngest child in a wagon en route. Ma's cries were "like birds being killed in the sky." The baby on her chest was "a red scrap that mewled and howled just like a cat." Blake's watercolor illustrations elegantly capture the scenery in warm earth tones with a delightful attention to detail. One picture shows the cold air blowing from the nose of a horse mounted for an early morning ride. In others, the children's faces evoke the fear, the joy, and the pensiveness expressed in the poems. Some books are breathtaking in every respect. This is one of them.?Jackie Hechtkopf, Talent House School, Fairfax,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Ann Turner, Robert J. Blake (Illustrator)
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