Ox-Cart Man

Ox-Cart Man

by Donald Hall, Barbara Cooney (Illustrator)
Publisher: Puffin Books
Mass market paperback, 39 pages
List Price: $8.99 Sale Price: $7.64

When I was young The Ox-Cart Man was a fascinating book. There were some aspects I could relate to—after all, my dad went to the store to buy groceries. Only in this book "the store" was a town miles away on foot, and "groceries" winter necessities and treats. There were other parts that were strange and oddly foreign, like the thought of spending your entire year making things for one culminating trip to market.

It was incredible and, at the same time, strangely attractive. Each member of the family had their own job, their own uinique contribution to the family's survival. There was the joy of producing things that could be put to use, the sadness of kissing your faithful ox goodbye. And of course there was that cozy picture of the whole family sitting around the fire eating wintergreen candies bought with a whole year's worth of labor.

What made the book so endearing to me certainly rings true across the generations of readers who've loved it. The themes of hard work, family, and providing for oneself are universal, though the way of life has largely disappeared from American society. Barbara Cooney's warm and genial illustrations and Donald Hall's rhythmic text help to bring the ox-cart man and his family to life for each new reader who steps into this world. A world defined by the turn of the seasons and the love and labor of a family.

Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
Summary: A circular story about a pioneer family as it works to provide for itself through the year.

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