The Great Turkey Walk
Author: Kathleen Karr
Publisher: Scholastic, copyright 1998
Scholastic Reading Level: 4.8
Lexile Measurement: 700L
Summary (Written by Marie):
School isn’t Simon Green’s specialty. He’s tried third grade out – 4 times – and still can’t quite get the hang of it. When his beloved teacher tells him it’s time to find his place in the world, he isn’t quite sure what to do. It doesn’t take him long though to find a business venture, an employee, and funding to back him up. Soon he’s headed west from Missouri herding a flock of 1000 turkeys to the booming gold town of Denver.
Marie’s Review (Mom):
This was a cute book! It was funny and light-hearted with bits of real life scattered throughout. And who knew that in 1863 someone actually did drive 500 turkeys from Missouri to Denver!
Grace and I really enjoyed it, but Lainey had some trouble following along. The style of writing fits the time period with many words large and unfamiliar to her, such as commenced, coons-age, gulled, yonder, reckoning, etc. Cute as it was, I would save it for children that can understand the language.
Lainey’s Review (4th grade):
It wasn’t my favorite story, but I still liked it. It was just okay. Some parts I didn’t like, like when the kid’s father tied him up. Why would a father do that?
Grace’s Review (5th Grade):
I liked it. It has a lot of adventure which I like. There were also some Native Americans. The plot was well written. It kept me interested.
Christian Friendly: Yes. It’s a secular book but there is nothing I found offensive.
Sensitive Readers: Just a little caution for highly sensitive children –
There are some mild G-PG rated fight scenes similar to what you’d see in a kid’s comedy. Not all 1000 turkeys make it to Denver either. Some end up as dinner! It’s not gruesome or sad though.
At one point, Simon finds his dad but his dad is selfish, doesn’t care about Simon, and ties him up and steals the turkeys. Lainey is very sensitive in some ways and the fact that a dad would do that to his own child bothered her.
One of the main characters is an alcoholic. This brought up some questions and good discussions. The alcoholism is viewed in a negative light, while the character with the problem is portrayed as a good man with a lot of potential when he’s sober. I thought the issue well handled.
Another character is an escaped slave who fears being recaptured.
The fate of the buffalo and lost freedom of the Native Americans is also briefly discussed in a tasteful manner.