Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express

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9780802796523: Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express
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In 1860, the first Pony Express rider set out on a trail from Missouri to California. With him, he carried a special delivery?the first mail ever carried by hand to the West. Over the next eleven days, he and many other riders would endure harsh weather, dangerous animals, and more, but nothing would diminish their unflagging determination and courage.
Meticulously researched and gorgeously illustrated, Michael P. Spradlin and Layne Johnson's Off Like the Wind! brings to life an adventurous journey, full of suspense and excitement, that celebrates America's can-do attitude and pioneering spirit.

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About the Author:

MICHAEL P. SPRADLIN is the author of several books for children and teens, including Walker's Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen and Daniel Boone's Great Escape, as well as the Youngest Templar series with Putnam. He lives with his family in Lapeer, Michigan. www.michaelspradlin.com


LAYNE JOHNSON has illustrated more than a dozen picture books for children, including the acclaimed Farmer George Plants a Nation. Mr. Johnson is also a frequent speaker in schools and libraries. When not painting, he loves spending time with his family, gardening, and traveling to historic sites. He lives in Texas. www.laynejohnson.com

From Booklist:

Basing his book, as much as possible, on scanty historical records (the author suggests that files may have been deliberately destroyed after the short-lived company’s collapse to prevent lawsuits), Spradlin re-creates the Pony Express’ first rides east from Sacramento and west from St. Joseph, Missouri—naming riders and horses when he can, and providing a composite of various Express riders’ adventures. Johnson heightens the drama with evocative full-bleed oils depicting riders galloping away from cheering crowds and snarling wolves, ducking an arrow, trudging through a snowstorm, and, in a particularly exciting scene, struggling not to go down amid stampeding buffalo. For collections that don’t already contain Gare Thompson’s Riding with the Mail (2007) or one of the plethora of similar titles, this makes a good introduction for budding fans of the Old West, and provides a stimulating prelude to more detailed histories, such as Tim McNeese’s The Pony Express: Bringing Mail to the American West (2009). An afterword, lists for further reading, a map, and a time line round out the book. Grades 3-5. --John Peters

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