Ox Cart Angel

Rated 4.13/5 based on 8 reviews
Claire and her father set out from the Dakota Territory, hoping to catch up to the large caravan of Métis fur traders that left the day before. Their destination? The bustling city of St. Paul, where Papa wishes to open a photography studio. But with only Bone Bag, their one-horned ox, to pull their squeaky cart, they soon realize they may have to make their treacherous journey alone. More

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Published by Joel Arnold
Words: 36,780
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465929914
About J. A. Arnold

J. A. Arnold lives in Minnesota with his wife, two kids, two cats, a dog, a rat and two fish. He loves history and travel.

Videos

Ox Cart Angel: An Interview with Author Joel Arnold
Here are excerpts from my talk on Ox Cart Angel and the Red River trails at Perham, MN - courtesy of Lake Country TV.

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Reviews

Review by: Aparna Sethuraman on March 08, 2012 :
Ox Cart angel is the story of a father and daughter and their journey towards the unknown. Claire is the daughter of a French Canadian father and an Indian mother. They live in an Indian community and one day the father, a photographer decides that he wants to move to the city and set up shop there. He trades his collection of photographs for a creaking old cart and a one-eyed Ox to take them to the city St. Paul. Claire does not want to leave her friends but is forced to go with her father. The father is a dreamer and does not seem to realize the daunting journey in front of them.

This is the story of their struggles and how they overcome it.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Nicola Martel on Dec. 03, 2011 :
Ox Cart Angel was really a very beautifully written historical fiction novel for younger teens or pre-teens. It was at times funny (the author capitilizes on a much beloved humour device for young people--flatulence!--though this is no way degrades the book for more mature readers) and at times very moving. It becomes so emotional near the end that I would perhaps caution parents of very sensitive children to read it first to make sure that their children can handle the more traumatic elements of the story (I won't spoil it!).

I would add that the book is more or a study in character than one that follows a convoluted plot-line. That is not to say that the book isn't engaging. On the contrary, it is one of the more enjoyable books I've read recently, for children or adults. It was very thoughtfully written and I will most definitely be on the look out for the sequel.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Mike Davis on Dec. 01, 2011 :
Although I gave this 4-stars, it's perhaps better than that as a Young Adult novel. The short novel reads as a diary of a young girl who sets out with her father on a nearly endless journey into Minnesota with an ox cart and a flatulent ox. Enroute she deals with fear, discrimination, love and hardship. The story is straightforward and easy reading toward the end while keeping the reader under tension. This is a great read for young adults.

This novel was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Gjo50 on Nov. 21, 2011 :
Ox Cart Angel, by J. Arnold, is the story of Claire, a young Métis girl, in the Dakota Territory during the Civil War. After the local Métis men leave on their yearly journey to sell their furs, Claire’s father decides to begin the risky journey with a ‘retired’ ox and Claire, despite his lack of knowledge and adequate supplies since the majority of space is full of his photography equipment. The pair endures multiple hardships, dangers, and boredom, aggravated by relationship difficulties.

This story leaves the reader with images of the difficulties that people endured living in the late 1800s including physical and mental hardship, racism, prejudice, and the constant struggle to survive. Claire struggles to accept her father’s decision to leave the village of her mother, knowing that her father does not have the skills to make such a trip. The book paints a vivid picture, leaving the reader exhausted as they meet the struggles along with Claire. The book drags at the reader’s emotions as the reader follows Claire through her struggles, presenting life in a tremendously difficult time.

I would recommend this book for teens for the historical aspect and for the conflicts of parent/child, racism, and survival. I received this book through the Library Thing Giveaway Program.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: njmom3 on Nov. 17, 2011 :
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/ox-cart-angel.html

Ox Cart Angel is a book set in the 1800s in the Dakota Territory. It tells the story of Claire and her father as they decide to relocate from the town of Pembina to St. Paul. It is the story of their journey as they attempt to reach the caravan of traders that has gone before and then as they journey alone with an ox cart full of photography equipment and their old ox Bone Bag.

Ox Cart Angel is also a story of racism, prejudice, loss, and ultimately survival. Claire's father is a French Canadian and her mother is a Native American, making Claire a Metis. The book talks about the racism and prejudice she faces both for being a Native American and for being of mixed parentage. Claire has also lost her mother to small pox and feels the loss again as they are forced to leave behind her home and possessions. Ultimately, the book is also about survival and moving forward as they face adversity after adversity on their journey.

The story creates a vivid picture of Claire and her father and of the land through which they travel. It pulls the reader into their world, feeling their emotions, and rejoicing and crying with them. The ending sends a strong message about survival and sets the groundwork for the sequel. Can't wait!

***Reviewed for LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program***
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: njmom3 on Nov. 17, 2011 :
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/ox-cart-angel.html

Ox Cart Angel is a book set in the 1800s in the Dakota Territory. It tells the story of Claire and her father as they decide to relocate from the town of Pembina to St. Paul. It is the story of their journey as they attempt to reach the caravan of traders that has gone before and then as they journey alone with an ox cart full of photography equipment and their old ox Bone Bag.

Ox Cart Angel is also a story of racism, prejudice, loss, and ultimately survival. Claire's father is a French Canadian and her mother is a Native American, making Claire a Metis. The book talks about the racism and prejudice she faces both for being a Native American and for being of mixed parentage. Claire has also lost her mother to small pox and feels the loss again as they are forced to leave behind her home and possessions. Ultimately, the book is also about survival and moving forward as they face adversity after adversity on their journey.

The story creates a vivid picture of Claire and her father and of the land through which they travel. It pulls the reader into their world, feeling their emotions, and rejoicing and crying with them. The ending sends a strong message about survival and sets the groundwork for the sequel. Can't wait!

***Reviewed for LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program***
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: mirrani on Nov. 12, 2011 :
Ox Cart Angel is a story of loss and discovery set in the days of wagon caravans and boys going off to fight in the civil war. Claire is a Metis girl (someone of both white and American Indian blood) lost in the changes of an adult's world. One moment she is playing with her friend, the next she is leaving her home forever. Her journey is filled with danger and tragedy, but it is equally filled with discovery and the joys of overcoming the sorrows of the past.

A perfect book to teach us that discovering who you are as a person does not happen quickly or in the way you expect it to, this story gradually helps the reader let go of what we physically cling to as a way of remembering the past and then leads them into grasping for the more precious memories in our hearts and minds. In this way, through Claire's journey the reader travels through pain and into hope.

The story is well written, told in the first person, from the prospective of a young girl whose world has turned upside down in what seems to be too many ways to count. The quality of writing puts the reader right into the events as they unfold along the long road and helps you to see through Claire's eyes and feel with her heart. In fact, the only warning I feel I must give anyone who picks up this book is that the story is so well told and the emotions are so well expressed within the words of each page that you will easily experience Claire's feelings as your own.

Note: Though this book was a free gift from the author, the content of my review was in no way influenced by the gifting. The book speaks for itself and my review would have been worded just this way even if I'd gone out and bought it. I also give bonus points for Text To Speech enabling on Kindle format.... but that also wasn't a factor in the above review.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Mary Endersbe on Aug. 27, 2011 :
Ox Cart Angel will transport you back to a time that your children may never knew even existed. It is so hard to realize that there were days before highways, before cars, before grocery stores with everything we could ever need were on every corner. This book reminds us that it really was not that long ago in our timeline that these conveniences were not available to us.
The story starts out with a girl, Claire. Claire is Métis, her mother being Indian and her father French Canadian. After the death of her mother, Claire finds out her father wants to pick up and move from the little town of Pembina to the big city of St. Paul. She does not want to leave the only home town she has grown up in and the friends she loves, but she has no choice. Her father has decided to sell what they can and move his photography business to St. Paul. All they can afford is an old, half blind ox the town children call Bone Bag and a rickety old cart. Having missed leaving with the big wagon train of Métis, but hoping on catching up with them, Claire and her father set out on their difficult journey.
Along the way, Claire refuses to leave her mother’s wedding gown, so she wears the dress almost the entire trip, even though it is uncomfortable, as Claire feels the dress is one of her last connections to her mother. As this little crew runs into people, they start to comment on how she appears to be an “angel.” Their trip with the old ox and cart is long, monotonous and oftentimes dangerous. This story is about all of the people they run across, the good and the bad, the adverse situations they have to deal with and the unknown future that awaits them. This is also a story of a relationship between a daughter and a father and how hard times make young people take on grown up responsibilities and how these responsibilities turn children into adults.
It took me a while to really get into the story of Ox Cart Angel, but when I did, it was so filled with interesting characters that the father/daughter team met along the way, it was hard to put down. Arnold’s writing was so descriptive it was easy for me to picture all of these people in my head. Each new situation the little ox cart team ran into was like another tiny story within the story and it was fun to see what these little side stories were about. I found the book very creative and original, not like any other book I have read set in that era. I think once a reader gets to know the characters and gets into the story, the rest of the book is so entertaining it just flies by. I was excited to see a sequel is in the works for this story as there is so much more that can be written here. I can’t wait for the next installment!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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