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The White Ox: The Journey of Emily Swain Squires    by Ruth Hailstone & Dan Burr order for
White Ox
by Ruth Hailstone
Order:  USA  Can
Boyds Mills Press, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Emily Swain Squires is off to America and, ultimately, to a new home and life in Salt Lake City. The ten year old girl will have to endure a difficult sea voyage from her home in England to New York City. Then she'll take a month long train and boat journey to Omaha where the most difficult part of the odyssey will begin.

The last leg of the adventure will be in a freight wagon across the plains and this will try the child to her breaking point. Tired, depressed and ready to quit, Emily says, 'Father in Heaven, I am so weary and dirty and alone. I don't want to go to Zion anymore. I just want to go home.'

At that point the child befriends a large, sick, white ox that had become so ill the creature was going to be left behind to die. Emily is determined to nurse the animal back to health, so she gets up early each day to feed and water it.

Focusing on the ox rather than what remains of the trip, Emily arrives in Salt Lake City on her eleventh birthday. In the turmoil of the welcome she drops the white ox's rope to greet her uncle and his family. When she tries to find the ox to show her uncle, the creature has disappeared.

'I believe my ox was sent to help me reach Zion, and now he's gone to someone who needs him more than I do,' Emily says as the story ends.

Based on the true story of a young Mormon girl who made the journey in the early 1860s, this inspirational account is illustrated with paintings by Dan Burr. Children eight years of age and older will find this combination of exquisite art and the real drama of the cross-country journey irresistible. On all levels, White Ox is an exceptional picture book and bound to become a family favorite.

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