Friday, June 29, 2012

The Journal of Joshua Loper: A Black Cowboy

Series:  My Name Is America (Dear America)
Title:  The Journal of Joshua Loper:  A Black Cowboy
Setting:  The Chisholm Trail, 1871
Main Character:  Joshua Loper, a 16-year-old black cowboy

Summary:  Joshua is a cowboy and has just been told he will be helping drive his boss' cows up the Chisholm Trail to be sold.  He is black at a time shortly after the Civil War, when this is an important distinction.  His diary covers his journey from Mr. Muhlen's ranch in Texas to Abilene, Kansas as he deals with stampedes, the excitement of his first time on the trail, tricks played on him by other members of the cattle drive, and even a great loss.  His first entry is April 30, and he describes his journey until the group arrives in Abilene July 15.  Mr. Muhlen has also arrived for the sale of his cattle, and tells Joshua, along with some of the other trail hands, that he wants them to return to the ranch and bring back another herd of cattle.  Joshua arrives home, but doesn't have much time to spend with his mother before heading back out on the trail as the book closes.

Review:  I think the diary format makes these books interesting.  The author includes a "Historical Note" at the end of the book with a description of "Life in America in 1871" and pictures of the towns and people who inspired Joshua's story.  A fold-out map of the Chisholm Trail is also included as the last page.  There are some grammatical errors, but they are accurate to how an individual like Joshua would have talked and written.  Joshua makes several references to church and prayer.  I have enjoyed reading this book more than once, and will read it again.
**** Four stars

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