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That's exactly what happened the other night here when we I asked them to fetch Boom Town for our library returns bag.
Among the many books the kids and I read aloud while beginning our Homeschool Legacy Westward Ho I and Westward Ho II unit studies, Boom Town is our hands-down, lasting favorite so far. Luke has read it on his own and has read it to his siblings. I've read it aloud a number of times by request, too. And Jack and Nina have paged through it on their own, too. Boom Town is simply fabulous!
It has history!
As historical fiction, Boom Town offers a look at how a gold mining town might develop through the choices of a single family and their influences on others. In doing so, it gives a gentle, child-friendly look at the realities of what living in a California gold rush area might have been like.
It inspires entrepreneurship!
The story centers around a young girl named Amanda, who has a hankering for pies and the will to bake a gooseberry one, even though everyone around her tells her that she cannot, for she only has a wood stove and an old iron skillet. With determination - and steadfastness through a couple failures - Amanda not only proves that she can bake a delicious pie, but that she can do more as well.
Amanda's ingenuity results in the creation of her own business: Amanda's Fine Pies. This business eventually becomes her family's livelihood and the center of a town that grows around it as Amanda encourages others to open their own businesses, too.
Plus, for those who think, That's all well and good, but is it realistic?, a historical note in the back of Boom Town explains that a real young lady was said to have improvised to bake $11,000 worth of pies in a small iron skillet. Wow!
It touches on virtues!
The characters in Boom Town display a variety of virtues and vices. Of course, as Amanda chats with townsfolk and encourages them to begin their own ventures, kindness is demonstrated. Hard work, happy countenance, resourcefulness and more are also displayed by characters in the book, as are some less desired qualities. Thus, it is to pause and chat about what kinds of behaviors are "right" and "wrong" while reading together.
It connects to music!
In Boom Town, Amanda's Pa has a habit of singing. Two multi-verse rhyming songs appear in the text, offering occasion to sign as well as to read. These songs also point towards tie-ins about how music and history intertwine.
It broadens vocabulary!
As Amanda makes suggestions to others about what their community needs, vocabulary related to a number of jobs comes up - peddler, prospector, cooper, tanner, blacksmith, livery and more.
These career-related words, as well as other vocabulary used throughout the text, can help can help broaden children's working vocabulary.
It engages with its illustrations!
From the very first pages of Boom Town, watercolor illustrations capture emotions. At its start, Amanda stands, looking forlorn, as her family sizes up the "town" that they are about to settle in in California,. energy and historical detail becoming a feast for children's eyes. My developing readers sometimes simply liked to browse the rich illustrations making up their own versions of the story.
It inspires baking!
If we were not gluten-free, Boom Town would have held one more bonus for us! On the endpapers is a recipe for Amanda's Gooseberry Pie. Yum!
Any way you slice it, we are so glad that Boom Town was amidst the recommended books from Homeschool Legacy's Westward Ho I and Westward Ho II. As a family that loves picture books, history, snuggly reading times and the idea of entrepreneurship, this book is complete win for us! It is one we want to add to our personal library collection so that we won't have to keep borrowing it from our local library system. Perhaps you will like it, too!
Have you found a complete win of a picture book lately, too? Please share its title with us! We so love finding new fabulous read togethers!