Ann Turner Red Flower Goes West

ISBN 13: 9780786822539

Red Flower Goes West

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9780786822539: Red Flower Goes West

A single red geranium, struggling to survive, becomes a symbol of hope and strength for family of settlers leaving behind their old life and following the gold rush to California in a covered wagon.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Turner's (Shaker Hearts; Angel Hide and Seek) somewhat labored story of a family's difficult journey to the California gold rush territory is filled with details familiar to most adults, but centered on an idiosyncrasy. At the beginning, the narrator's mother tells his father, "You can ask me to leave my home and friends, but this flower came from Mother's garden. Where I go, this flower goes too." The symbol of the uprooted flower, though sometimes heavy-handed, generally works as a unifying device for the travails of the transplanted family. Occasionally, however, James's and his family's concern for the flower seems not only needlessly anthropomorphic but misplaced. While they risk dehydration in crossing "the drylands," James shares his tiny allotment of water with the plant ("I told [my sister], 'If that flower dies, we'll never get to California' "). When James's father almost drowns, James "clutche[s] Red Flower, [tells] her to watch over Pa," and then credits the flower for helping "somehow" to save Pa's life. The illustrations are poignant in their spareness, if not particularly childlike. As with antique photographs, Nolan's (Dinosaur Dream) finely etched portraits and landscapes are barely tinted with color, except for the red geranium that looms as an emblem of the family's hope. Ages 5-9. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal:

PreSchool-Grade 3A boy describes his familys cross-country journey during the California Gold Rush. When Pa declares that they will be heading west, Ma digs up a plant from her garden and insists on taking it along, saying, Where I go, this flower goes too. As the family travels by wagon across rivers, through drylands, and over mountains, the children stake their hopes on the survival of Red Flower. When the plant begins to wither, they worry that they will never reach their destination. Then a new leaf appears and they are sure they will make it to California after all. When Red Flower is finally planted in what will be the garden of their new home, the family is filled with hope for the future. Though the characters have little depth or personality, the simple narrative is enriched by the way in which Red Flower becomes a symbol for the struggles of this pioneer family. Nolans illustrations are particularly effective. Each full-page painting is rendered in soft grays and browns, with just a few splashes of color. The green leaves and especially the red petals of the flower stand out prominently, marking the plants significance in the story. The inventive visual presentation makes the tale involving and memorable.Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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