When Mama says that she would love to have a brown-eyed cow to give milk for the baby, Samuel’s father takes his best knife off the mantle and sets out with Samuel to make a trade. A snowstorm is brewing, so Papa says to Samuel, “Keep up. It’s a long road on a short day.”
Samuel and Papa walk from their farm to a neighbor’s barn, meet travelers on the road, and visit houses and businesses in town. Each time, they trade for another item in this cumulative tale set in an earlier time. Samuel is often wistful when they have to leave dogs, kittens, and ponies behind, but he is always polite and helpful, and his positive spirit is rewarded in the end with an extra gift just for him.
Gary Schmidt is a Newbery Medal-winning author (also reviewed here), and Long Road is based on a manuscript by his late wife, who wrote as Elizabeth Stickney. The nostalgic story is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, and it is refreshing to read about a young boy learning how to be a man of admirable character by observing the older men around him. This early chapter book is punctuated by Americana-style illustrations by Eugene Yelchin.
A perfect winter read for loving families.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.