Pappy's Handkerchief (Tales of Young Americans)

by Devin Scillian (Author) Chris Ellison (Illustrator)

Pappy's Handkerchief (Tales of Young Americans)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Young Moses and his family are barely scraping by. He helps his father in their fish stall selling each day's catch to passersby but times are hard in 1889 Baltimore. It's difficult to provide for a family of ten. But when they hear of free farmland out in Oklahoma, it sounds like the answer to their prayers. The family sells all they own and heads west to fulfill a lifelong dream. Their wagon journey, however, is plagued with troubles from ice storms and flooded rivers to diminishing supplies and sickness.

Yet Moses and his family persevere. They arrive in time to take a place along the boundary line that marks the staging point for the Oklahoma Land Run. But after making it this far, will even more bad luck prevent them from realizing their dream of owning their own piece of America?

Evocative paintings and spellbinding storytelling bring the Oklahoma Land Run to vivid life for young readers.

Select format:

More books in the series - See All

Kirkus Review - Children

An African-American lad saves his family’s bacon in a tale set during the Great Oklahoma Land Run. 

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4 In Oklahoma in the late 1880s and '90s, would-be settlers were offered free land if they staked a claim on a designated day and agreed to farm it for five years, after which they owned it outright. Narrated by young Moses, this story follows a black family from Baltimore who risk everything and suffer many tribulations in order to get to the Oklahoma territory line. When the older members of the family are incapacitated for various reasons, it falls to Moses to retrieve the family's fortunes and race to stake the claim with his grandfather's handkerchief tied to a pole. This history of a unique and interesting part of the settling of the West is illustrated in beautiful paintings of warm, soft browns, yellows, and blues that complement the narrative, together creating a fascinating look at the past. It's a handsome, oversize volume that is certainly worthy of consideration by most collections to enhance a unit on Western history and an understanding of an important facet of African-American history, as well. "Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA" Copyright 2008 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date
August 22, 2007
Tales of Young Americans
BISAC categories
JUV016140 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | United States - 19th Century
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Family life
Frontier and pioneer life
Land Rush, 1889
Oklahoma Book Award
Winner 2008 - 2008

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!