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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

TITLE: The Great Turkey Walk 
AUTHOR: Kathleen Karr 
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1, 2000
FORMAT: Paperback, 208 pages
GENRE: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780374427986
Yeeeeeee-haw! Git along, little . . . turkeys?

Big, brawny Simon Green, who's just completed third grade (for the fourth time), may not be book smart, but he's nobody's fool. When it's time to be done with school and make his way in the world, Simon hatches a plan that could earn him a bundle. He intends to herd a huge flock of bronze turkeys all the way from his home in eastern Missouri to the boomtown of Denver, where they'll fetch a mighty price. In the year 1860, the hazards of such a trek are many - how does one shepherd the birds across a river, for instance? - but Simon is undaunted. Accompanied by a faithful drover, and eventually to be joined by two boon companions, he undertakes the biggest journey of his young life, in this high-spirited Wild Wild West adventure by an acclaimed author of historical fiction.


I read this historical fiction novel to my children, which takes place in 1860 before the Civil War.

Simon Green is a 15 year-old boy, whose parents are deceased. He has been raised by his aunt and uncle, and they never let him forget what a burden it is for them to have to have an extra mouth to feed. He is slightly dimwitted, being the oldest boy in the one-room schoolhouse and having taken Grade 3 four times. The teacher, Miss Rogers, is not much older than he is! At the end of the school year, she takes Simon aside and tells him that she believes that it is time for him to move on and that she must graduate him and wishes him well.

Simon wonders what he shall do with his time, now that he no longer has school to attend. He comes up with a brilliant plan after speaking with Mr. Buffey, who tells him that turkeys fetch $5 a head in Denver because food is in short supply. Simon reasons that if he buys 1,000 turkeys for $0.25 a head in Union, Missouri and walks them to Denver, Colorado and sells them for $5 a head, he will make a profit of $4,750. It’s a great idea, but only if he can make it work. He excitedly speaks with Miss Rogers about his plan, and she decides to invest in his business proposal. This gives him the financial backing that he needs in order to buy the turkeys from Mr. Buffey.

Along the way to Denver, Simon encounters a reformed alcoholic named Mr. Peece and his dog named Emmett, a slave boy named Jabeth, and a teenage girl named Lizzie who has gone a bit mad after the deaths of her parents and siblings. The unlikely quartet become somewhat of a family of their own, and Simon graciously includes the trio as business partners and agrees to split his profit after repaying Miss Rogers her loan plus 10% of her share in the revenue. 

The Great Turkey Walk is a fun adventure, and Simon’s business plan proves that no one gave the boy enough credit. We really enjoyed how Simon proved everyone wrong. He is very kind-hearted and thoughtful, as well as street-savvy. 


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1 comment:

  1. What a fun kids' book -- it involves history, math and business strategy?! And turkeys :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics


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