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An Outlaw Thanksgiving

by Emily Arnold McCully

Published by Dial, 1998
40 pages
ISBN: 0-8037-2197-8

Ages 5-9

During 1896, Clara and her mother are traveling by train from New York State almost across the continent. Clara's mother worries about "germs, strangers, and train wrecks." During one of the stopovers Clara sees a poster offering a $4,000 reward to the person who turns in Butch Cassidy, an outlaw wanted for train robbery, cattle rustling, and bank robbery. She hears from a train newsboy that Butch Cassidy is "no worse than the robber barons who run these railways" and, furthermore, he's said to be "awfully good-hearted. Gives some of what he steals to needy folks..." Somewhere near the Utah border the train becomes snowbound. Nearby ranchers with sleighs rescue the stranded passengers, some of whom are taken to a small hotel where preparations have been made for Thanksgiving dinner. Clara recognizes one of the friendly cowhands hosting the surprisingly elegant dinner as the man whose picture she saw on the "wanted" poster. According to the author's note, a Thanksgiving dinner with those particular hosts was documented by a former Brown's Hole resident who attended it. McCully is particularly adept at writing an appealing story involving a young protagonist with a believable personality and in creating visual historical settings with carefully costumed characters and environments in which they interact with many others. Her lovely artwork for this splendid story was made using watercolor and tempera. CCBC categories: Historical People, Places and Events; Picture Books for Older Children; Seasons and Celebrations.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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