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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,657 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Dear Gram and Grampop,
Please do not address yours truly as California anymore, California Morning Whipple being a foolish name for a duck much less a girl. I call myself Lucy now. I cannot hate California and be California. I know you will understand.

California doesn't suit Lucy Whipple -- not the name, not the place. But moving out West to Lucky Diggins, California, was h

185 pages
Published (first published 1996)
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243rd out of 846 books — 2,190 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jun 30, 2008 Kristen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
We listened to this book on tape on a drive. I have to get stories that are kid friendly, and this one did not disappoint. I'd already read it, so I knew the kids would like it.

California Morning Whipple has lost her father and little sister, and now must move to California itself from her beloved Massachusetts. She doesn't want to go and does so very grudgingly. Even so, she becomes a big help to her mother, hunting game, making pies and helping in the boarding house where her mother is propri
California Morning Whipple is distraught at being uprooted from her Massachusetts home, away from her grandparents. But, her mother is determined to fulfill her dead husband's dream of going out west to California to the land of gold on the streets and a new life. Life, as they find out, is difficult and riches are no more common than they are in the east. California Morning hates California so much, she changes her name to Lucy. Lucy lives through back-breaking work, days without books, and dea ...more
Genre:Historical Fiction

Quick Book Summary

Lucy Whipple and her family moved from Massachusetts to California by covered wagon. Her brother Butte died from a virus in the water. Lucy grew up and planned to go back to Massachusetts. Her mom got maried, moved to the Sandwich Islands, and Lucy decided to stay at Lucky Diggins and to not go back to Massachusetts.

Justify your rating: A

I gave the book three stars because I liked it and it was a very interesting book to read. It followed a young girls l
It may just be my lack of maturity which steers me to young adult fiction, but I reckon it's just good storytelling. That's right, I wrote "reckon," cause this here's a ballad.

I had a helluva fun time reading this coming of age story, with the sassy Miss Lucy Whipple and her moans and groans of dissatisfaction at having been relocated to the wild, wild West. It's a comfort to know that all teenagers, through all time periods, have had the power to make their parents miserable, whether they had
This is a moving tale of a young girl by the name of California Morning Whipple. She is dismayed that her family is moving to Calfornia. It is the summer of 1849, and California vows to be miserable about her situation. The book relates her adventures over a span of several years, during which time California changes her name to Lucy. She finally comes to the resolution that home is the place where you are loved, safe, and needed. I admire Lucy's obstinance, and can relate to her fears at the be ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Jane
"Well, little sister, I'd say a ballad is a poem that tells a story of the extraordinary doin's of ordinary folk. You can say ballads or sing 'em or jist play their tunes for folks who know. I learned me lots of ballads in Texas."
"Tell us one. Please."
"You jist sit back and listen, sis, and I'll tell you a good one. Imagine we're outside, settin' round a fire of cow pies and dry grass. But for the fire it's so dark you couldn't find your nose with both hands, and there you sit, lookin' at the
This is a great story about a young girl whose family moves to California during the Gold Rush. She hates her circumstances but finds a way to change her life. It's an all around great story. Karen Cushman writes stories about strong girls.

Just read this again and I still really like it! But this time, the ending meant a bit more to me when Lucy's family went to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii, now) since I have family on those islands.
Rana Burr
Since I couldn't find The Midwife's Apprentice by the same author at my local library, I settled for this lesser known title. I am so glad I did. Olivia and read this together. It is a story told by a young lady who was uprooted along with her family to go to California and work and live among miners during the Gold Rush. Fascinating and lively to say the least.
I thought it was boring and wasn't tremendously thrilled whenever I read it, or was never excited to read it or be reading it. I never really wanted to read it even though i knew I should. I didn't really like it.
Loanis Menendez-cuesta
This is a wholesome story that begins in 1849 and set during the Westward Expansion and the California Gold Rush. Our main character is 12 year-old California Morning Whipple, whose life is unsettled when her widowed mother uproots her and her brother, Butte, and sisters Prairie and Sierra from their comfortable residence in Massachusetts and decides to "Go West" to California where "the gold is just laying around" waiting to be picked!

Faced with the rough reality of the New Frontier and Pioneer
"The only constant thing in this life is change", I think that is the basic theme for this book. Lucy learns through hard work, sweat and tears that sometimes we must do things that we don't want to do and that includes moving from Massachusetts to California during the gold rush days when the west was wild. Lucy learns to make the best of a bad situation and meets many colorful characters along the way.

I picked up this book because I like the other books that I've read by Karen Cushman. This is
Ginger Smith
This is a coming of age story about a young girl who is uprooted by her mother from Massachusetts to the wild west of California. Readers of all ages will enjoy this historical fiction piece. The story contains a strong female maternal figure in her Mother who was the one who made the decision to go west to find their fortune; and her Mother stays strong throughout the book. I think Lucy learns her strength from her mother and because of that is able to do the things she does.

This book kept my
As I read this an adult female, this was a really good, well-written book. I came to read this book, however, with my 8 year-old, 3rd grade son as part of his school unit on the Gold Rush. I would not say it is the best book for him or really any student (in particular a boy, but girls, too) of that same age. Indeed, the book is actually recommended as a young adult book (and classified as such in the library), for ages 12 and up. 3rd graders and 8 year olds are NOT young adults, and the content ...more
I thought I had read this book when I was younger, but the story did not sound familiar to me at all. All I remembered was the title and one scence with an indian girl. I figured I had the wrong book, but when I read it; there is was! I remember picking this book up because some girl in my class thought it was awful and crass and so descriptive and dirty. She went on and on about this scene with this indian girl who had menstal blood running down her leg. This was in like 4th or 5th grade, and I ...more

Lucy Whipple is a determined bookworm who surprises her Ma (and us) with her ability to create her own persona and find her niche in the social and natural wilderness of a mining camp. This self-made gal (aged 11-14) clings to her private dream of returning to a stable life and civilization back East, but she has to start from scratch: she changes her odd but given name of California Morning. She is foiled at irregular intervals in her schemes to save up passag
Illyra Vote
Historical Fiction. This book was very well written and a perfect example of a well done historical fiction novel. The story follows the tale of a girl named California Whipple who changes her name to Lucy once her mother and siblings move to California during the 1800s because she realizes she hates California. This book was a story about finding home in the ones you love, Lucy has the chance to move away from this place she once hated but decides not to because she met a man who becomes her ho ...more
Libby Ames
Karen Cushman gives excellent voice to all her characters, but Lucy Whipple is one of my favorites. I relate to her negative view of change as she is grudgingly won over by a new place and people. Lucy, originally named California Morning Whipple, moves with her mother, brother and two sisters to a small town in California during the gold rush. Coming from the East, Lucy misses civilization and heartily despises the dirty and uncouth miners. As she shirks her work and complains about her surroun ...more
Karen Cushman is a great author. I liked her book, "The Midwife's Apprentice" better. This book is great though - I laughed out loud several times at Lucy's anecdotes. Ending was a little predictable but I still like it.

Here's the review from Amazon:
When California Morning Whipple's widowed mother uproots her family from their comfortable Massachusetts environs and moves them to a rough mining camp called Lucky Diggins in the Sierras, California Morning resents the upheaval. Desperatel
This was part of Kadin's history lessons. I think I loved it more than he did. It is full of powerful themes and inspiring relationships. It was a good glimpse into the lives of those who participated in the California gold rush. Fun language appropriate to the time period. Worked well as a read aloud -except for the couple times I had to hide a quavery voice and force back tears. I would like to read Karen Cushman's other historical fiction books to the kids.
Kristin Rosenberg
Within the first chapter of this book, I can taste the dirt and dust in the air, and I can feel the harsh heat of the sun beating down on me. The works on the page transport you to a hot, cramped wagon where the narrator - California - is miserable. The writing compels you to read on, partly in hope of seeing that maybe something good can happen to this character. Recommended for serious readers and lovers of strong female characters and historical fiction.
I don't think I've ever been disappointed in a Karen Cushman book. This one was just as enjoyable as the others I've read. As with some of the others, it features a strong female protagonist. Lucy (aka California) Whipple, is uprooted from her comfortable home in Massachusetts and moves to California with her mother and three siblings during the Gold Rush days. She's not impressed with California and schemes to make enough money to get back home. I think I say this a lot in my reviews, but I'll ...more
This book was selected by accident by my bookclub. We were looking for "book kits" from our local library and sent an email to the club members of a few titles and summaries of the book kits that they would be interested in. The vote for Lucy Whipple was chosen only BEFORE we realized it was at an elementry school reading level. The club members still wanted to read it.
So we did.
I read this book in a total of a few hours (over a few days), I mean at a 10 year old reading went by REALL
Lucy Whipple can be read by younger readers. Young readers, in my opinion, can relate to Lucy Whipple and her story in various ways. She goes through a lot throughout the book, such as change, adjusting to new friends, growing up, and living new experiences. As Lucy moves from the east to California with her mother and the rest of her family, she is not very happy at first. She is very dissatisfied with the new environment and wants to go back home to Massachusetts. In time however, Lucy adapts ...more
This was a cute story of a girl who did not want to leave her beautiful home in Massachusetts for the gold fields of California. Her pa and brother had died. Her ma was ready to move on to a new life. This is a story of their adventures in the wild west among gold miners. The author used language of the day and wrapped it up with a sound ending. All in all a fun read.
Stephanie Nawrocki

This book was not at all what I was expecting in both good ways and bad. I expected a very different story at the beginning and was surprised at the relationship the mom had with her kids and the fact that even though she had lost her husband, she still took her children to the other side of the country. The story did actually build up and the characters were actually pretty interesting, but then I felt that the book dropped off towards the end. It bugged me that Lucy made such a big deal
Miss Amanda
gr 5-8 209 pgs

Gold Rush 1849-1855, Lucky Diggins, California. 12 year old California Morning "Lucy" Whipple just wants to go home to Massachusetts and can't understand why her mother felt the need to move to California...

Read it a while a ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details other than it was a good story.
Kandyce Barber
Ahh, I had forgotten how much I really love this book. I listened to it this time, kudos to the reader, she was fantastic. California "Lucy" Whipple heads out west with her family after her pa had died from pneumonia. Lucy makes me laugh out loud, giggle and cry. Her descriptions of her new home "Lucky Diggins" and the miner inhabitants cracked me up. There are also very poignant moments where she tells of how her pa and new baby sister are buried together because the ground was frozen, a conver ...more
I enjoyed this book a lot for the great story it tells, the imagery it includes, and how it incorporates many of the aspects of a gold miners life during the gold rush. It gives a good insight into the mining culture of the west back then and I feel that helps a lot in painting the picture for the reader. How all the dialoge is worded and how the landscape is so vividly described I found very genuine and felt that these apects really made the book complete. I also liked all the unique characters ...more
Even thought his is considered children's fiction, I thought the
author did a terrific job in keeping the language of the era
authentic. It was colorful!
This is the story of a young girl who's mother drags she and her other siblings out from Massachusetts to the gold fields of California. It is told from Lucy's perspective of the unwilling participant and how she responds to her surroundings and the hardships of trying to make a go of it in with the miners. Her mother gets a job managing a hotel
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla
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