There is a reason Kimberly Willis Holt has a list of awards as long as your arm. She is an amazing writer. Her language is so lyrical, it almost floats like music on a breeze. It is like a smell that suddenly transports you back to your mom's kitchen years ago. (I am having trouble finding words to describe this, can you tell.) This book is so vivid and sweet, and at the same time achingly sad, I don't think I could ever recommend it to a child. There is no way that a child could comprehend or appreciate the depth of emotion portrayed in the book. You have to go through a few things in your own life before you can appreciate a book like this.
It is the story of a boy, Amos, who lives in the 1830's. His father is a trapper, and his mother dies in child birth. The boy is passed from one mother figure to another and each one loves him in her own way. It seems you are just getting to know and love his current mother figure when she is ripped away from him. Finally he and his father arrange to help lead a group of pioneers west on the Oregon trail. The second half of the book is an account of their adventures and trials on the trail. (spoiler allert!) During the trip he meets a girl his own age who has a disfigured face. At first he is repulsed by her appearance, but as he gets to know her, he honestly can no longer see her scars and she becomes beautiful to him. It is so sweet it makes your heart ache. I listened to the recorded version of the book and the voice actor is excellent. I think the recording itself won several awards. At one point I came home from work, made a lunch, and then took it out to the car to eat it so I could keep listening to the story. Anyway, I was really touched by the book, but I don't think it is for anyone under the age of 30. (309 p)