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Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2013 K-Gr 2—A historical tale that provides a glimpse into a unique part of 19th-century life on the Erie Canal: the floating library/bookstore. On a trip into town, Jesse is excited to see the book boat and even happier to find a book he loves, Johann David Wyss's The Swiss Family Robinson. The book's price is more money than he has, so he spends the week before the boat's return working to earn seven more cents. Although he isn't able to earn enough, the book-boat proprietor offers him a cheaper copy, and Jesse is thrilled to be able to write his name in a book and mark it as his own. Librarians and teachers will appreciate Jesse's love of books and his commitment to working hard in order to own one. Although the text, particularly the dialogue, is not very creative, the historical information it provides, along with the folk-style gouache paintings, gives a strong sense of time and place. The scenes with backgrounds of the town, the countryside, and the general store are full of vibrant color and atmospheric detail. In one spread, a pair of horses can be seen pulling a boat up the river, showing how river traffic operated. An author's note gives a little more background information. A supplementary purchase.—Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CT - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2013 Jesse and his father hitch up the wagon and head into town to do some shopping at the general store. To Jesse’s surprise and delight, the R. Edwards Library and Bookstore boat is docked along the wharf. Jesse finds a book he wants, and, at his father’s suggestion, does odd jobs for the week to earn the money to pay for it. The following week, Jesse finds his book gone, but Mr. Edwards has another copy, a bit more worn, but cheaper for it. This simple story illuminates an overlooked facet of library history—floating libraries—while combining the honest values of an earlier era with a straightforward telling. Cotten’s clean language feels true to its time, matched by the direct composition of Lessac’s primitive-style paintings. An author’s note fills in some historical details about the Erie Canal and the boats that traveled along it, adding curricular opportunities to this earnest, old-fashioned tale. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2013 Jesse has read every book on his teacher’s shelf, and his only opportunity for fresh material presents when the R. Edwards canal boat library and bookstore floats into his nearby town. Pa lets him explore Mr. Edwards’ offerings while he gets the shovel handle repaired, and Jesse sets his heart on a hardly used edition of The Swiss Family Robinson. At the princely sum of twenty cents, it’s out of his financial reach, but the Edwards will make a return trip in about a week, which leaves Jesse enough time to take on odd jobs to earn the price of the book. Sweeping at the general store, cleaning the stables, chopping wood, and running errands puts coin in his pocket, but by now the book has been sold. Fortunately, there’s still another copy-well worn, but only fourteen cents, and Jesse’s a happy young man. Lessac’s gouache paintings in her signature naïve style are a good match for the early nineteenth-century setting, and the interior scenes of the canal boat should pique audience interest. There’s a bit too much about Jesse’s chores, though, and not nearly enough information on the canal boat itself to satisfy curiosity about this, ahem, novel delivery system. Still, this could be paired successfully with Monica Brown’s Waiting for the Biblioburro (BCCB 9/11) for a look at unique book-borrowing approaches. An historical note on the Erie Canal is included. EB - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.