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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple
Author: Karen Cushman
Ages: 9-12
Topics: California, California Gold discoveries, Frontier & Pioneer life, Family life, Gold Rush
Genre: Historical Fiction

This story begins in 1849. Lucy, who is a twelve year old girl, is upset when her mother decides to move the whole family from Massachusetts to a small California mining town. Lucy helps to run the boarding house. She enjoys reading books and spends much of her time trying to find a way to go back home. We learn much about life and times in the West.

Beyond the Book

Use the Internet Connections below to find resources needed to complete the following activities:
  • Learn more about the California Gold Rush and Sutter's Mill. Create a timeline of key events. Add Lucy's adventures on the timeline.
  • Pretend that you're Lucy and write a postcard to your cousin who lives back in Massachusetts. Locate a picture on the Internet from that time period to include on your postcard.
  • In pairs, use the Internet resources to explore some of the people from the gold rush time period. Pretend that this person has come to your small mining town. Create a list of questions you would ask this person. Now, trade the questions with someone else. Answer the questions like the "real person" would answer them.
  • Make a list of your favorite books to be placed in Lucy's Library.
  • On a globe of the world, trace the route Lucy's family traveled from Massachusetts to California. What was life like on the ships that took the people West during the gold rush?
  • Find out more about other places in the United States where gold was discovered. Write about a girl traveling to that location.
  • What was happening in the area where you live in 1849? Find out what areas of the United States were settled in 1849?
Internet Connections
Gold Rush-Sea Route
Picture of Ship
Discovery of Gold
The Great American Gold Rush
The Virtual California Gold Country
San Francisco Museum --Gold Rush--
Discovery-Wayback Machine-Gold Rush
Gold Rush
The Way West
Picture of Ship
Author and Book Connections
Explore information about the author of the book:
Karen Cushman
Karen Cushman
Read other books by the same author:
Catherine, Called Birdy
The Midwife's Apprentice
Return to Fun with Favorites

Created by
Annette Lamb, 6/99.