The Great Turkey Walk-
From the Publisher
Kathleen Karr is the author of many novels for young readers, most recently Man of the Family. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
From The Critics
"I've always been fond of birds, poultry in particular." From that first sentence, readers will gobble up Karr's (Oh, Those Harper Girls!) hilarious novel of a boy who resolves to walk 1000 turkeys from the Show-Me state to Denver, Colorado. Simon, who's 15 and newly graduated from the third grade, may not be too bright, but he figures he can make his fortune by buying Mr. Buffey's bronze turkeys for a quarter apiece and selling them in Denver for $5 each. With his schoolteacher as an investor, Simon picks up a former drunk and a runaway slave to be his partners, and starts herding those turkeys 900 miles down the road. In their travels, they encounter a raging river and a swarm of locusts, each of which the turkeys conquer. But peskiest of all, they're tailed by Simon's no-good father, a circus strongman, who decides he wants in on the deal. The gifted Karr has a cheerful, sassy down-home writing style and a perfect pitch for dialogue (she also has an authoritative knowledge of poultry, having grown up on a New Jersey chicken farm). A bonus: the tale is based in truththere really were turkey drives in the American West. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (PW best book of 1998)
When fifteen-year-old Simon Green completes the third grade for the fourth time, his teacher, Miss Rogers, tells him that it is time for him to move on-and out of school. He discovers that Mr. Buffey has one thousand extra turkeys. It is 1860, the West is just opening up, and the folks in the boomtown of Denver will pay a good price for fine turkeys. Since he has all the time in the world, Simon decides to set out on the thousand-mile trek from Missouri, herding those turkeys with the help of Mr. Peece. Along the way he makes friends with Jabeth, a runaway slave, and Lizzie, the sole survivor of a prairie homesteading family. They work together to overcome hardships such as turkey rustlers (one of whom is Simon's long-lost father) and a swarm of grasshoppers. With depth to her characters and a lightness to her telling, Karr's humorous adventure tale is a delight. Her fine research of the period is so deftly woven into the story that readers will easily absorb knowledge of pre-Civil War life in the American West. This adventure begs to be read aloud and shared, so make yourself comfortable, pull out a map, follow the turkey drive and watch as "simple" Simon spreads his wings.