Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails

Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails
by Verla Kay & S.D. Schindler

In Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails, Kay and Schindler take readers along with mother, father, and baby John as they head west on the pioneer trail to California. A rhyming tale of four lines per page, the story starts out full of optimism and high spirits but becomes more markedly less so as the arduous journey continues. 

Kay's verses capture the range of emotions along the way, but impressively retain a sense of optimism and hopeful anticipation. School Library Journal called this book "a riveting story about courage, endurance, and optimism." 

We are big fans of Verla Kay. In fact, we have every book she has written on this site! (I think.) She has such a fantastic way of translating events in American history into kid-friendly, fun but educational picture books. We hope there are many more to come from this great author. (And she always pairs up with such talented illustrators too!)

Interest Level:  Kindergarten - 3rd grade

Here is the first spread in the book, in which the family is just heading out on the pioneer trail. As with all Verla Kay books, the rhyming text is fun and bouncy and packed with historical details. 

Schindler's watercolor and gouache paintings are brilliant! At right is another page from a spread inside this book. In fact, almost all of the pages are double-page spreads, creating beautiful panoramas that capture the setting and drama of the voyage.
Schindler strikes a nice balance, keeping the illustrations kid friendly through whimsical characters but also creating vistas and settings that are educational, accurate and stunning. Of course, you have to see them full size to really appreciate it.

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