Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ox-Cart Man” as Want to Read:
Ox-Cart Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ox-Cart Man

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  11,430 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews
Winner of the Caldecott Medal

Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods - the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of
Paperback, 40 pages
Published October 27th 1983 by Puffin Books (first published October 8th 1979)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ox-Cart Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ox-Cart Man

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Caldecott Medal Winners
21st out of 79 books — 361 voters
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
402nd out of 3,706 books — 5,288 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 03, 2014 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Nice portrayal of a farmers life in the 19th Century. How the Farmer loads up his cart to products his family works on over the year. It shows many different uses for what a farmer might have access to. Such as mittens made from sheep wool. A great book to introduce your child to a good history lesson.
I have actually first seen “Ox-Cart Man” on an episode of “Reading Rainbow” and I have decided to re-read this book after so many years of not reading it in my adult years. “Ox-Cart Man” is a Caldecott Medal Award winning book by Donald Hall along with illustrations by Barbara Cooney and it basically details the everyday life of how a man and his family keep on making new items to sell at the market and to use the money they earned from selling their items to buy new items. “Ox-Cart Man” might h ...more
I absolutely love Barbara Cooney's expressive illustrations (they are bold, colourful and show a detailed slice of life, an almost palatable sense of time and place). Donald Hall's text, while it is for the most part a more than adequate mirror of the illustrations, I do tend to find somewhat overly positive and optimistic. The poetic narrative never really expands all that much on the fact that the Ox-Cart Man is away from his family for weeks, perhaps even months on end, that his wife and chil ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
An interesting look at pioneer times and the things that people would do to make a living. Our girls enjoyed this book a lot and asked a lot of questions about why the man would sell his mode of transport. The illustrations by Barbara Cooney, as usual, are fantastic.

This book was selected as one of the books for the January 2016- Quarterly Caldecott discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
The illustrations of Barbara Cooney really "make" this book. But the "dated" story is touching, how the farmer and his family work the land, harvest and make, knit, carve, weave things to sell at the market, how they make the utmost use of everything the farm and the land give them. It was a great opportunity to explain how people used to live in the "olden days" and how there used to be an age where people did not have stoves (well, okay, some people may still not have stoves), cars, supermarke ...more
I remember liking the book from Reading Rainbow* (great episode where LeVar goes to Old Sturbridge Village! ) and I think I appreciated it even more now as an adult. I know I'm romanticizing the past, but as I read and explained the story to my son (he is almost three and was wondering about the old-fashioned aspects, such as why the man was walking with the ox instead of taking a car) I was really struck with the beautiful simplicity and lack of excess in that way of life... how ones work and h ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
I read this book when my kids were young, but the impact of the story didn't hit me until I watched Bill Moyer's documentary about Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon. When Hall explained hearing the story that prompted him to write this book, I decided to revisit the children's book.

It begins in October when an unnamed farmer packs a cart with all the products and produce his family has made and grown. He arrives in Portsmouth and sells the candles, maple sugar, cabbages, etc. When I read aloud to my
Apr 01, 2011 Meghan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is one of Maddie's favorites. I like it too because it describes colonial life and takes us away from...our modern conveniences. The illustrations are beautiful.
Jan 14, 2010 Nika rated it it was amazing
I love Donald Hall poetry, and while this is not the best example of his work, the tender illustrations certainly do him justice.
Mike Smith
Jun 16, 2012 Mike Smith rated it it was ok
Shelves: caldecott, swms
Only the illustrations earn the second star. All are classic representations of colonial New England, but only the panoramic depictions of the Ox Cart Man's journeys are anything special. The flowing path evokes a journey of many days while allowing the whole journey to appear in one frame. The colors in these illustrations also portray the beauty of the region missing in the dreariness of the rest of the tale. Unfortunately these three illustrations cannot overcome the boring, repetitive and de ...more
Shanna Gonzalez
Aug 10, 2009 Shanna Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-04-08
This beautifully written story follows a year in the life of a 19th-Century New England family. It echoes the style of Donald Hall’s poetic version of the story, which probably preceded this book.

In the first scene, the Ox-Cart Man loads his cart with goods to drive into town: wool, knitted goods, woven flax, hand-whittled brooms, shingles, and so on. As he loads the cart, the narrator embeds brief descriptions of how the family worked to create them. On selling the goods, the man buys supplies
Laura Verret
I’ve heard people rave about this book. Seriously – rave. So, I came into the book knowing what to expect. I will not be raving about it, but I did like it exceedingly. Here’s why.

Ox-Cart Man is the story of a farmer and his family. All year long the farmer and his family have been busy turning the resources on their farm into things to sell – the father and son sheared the sheep for wool which the mother spun into yarn which the daughter knit into pairs of mittens; they made candles, shingles,
This simple yet beautiful historical fiction picture book takes the reader on a journey to early nineteenth-century New England. It is spring time. The main character, the ox-cart man, prepares to leave for Portsmouth Market. The family helps him to load his cart. Everything that the family made or produced during the previous season is packed for sale. The family needs money to buy tools and seeds for the new season. At the market, the man sells all his goods including the cart and the ox. He w ...more
Chelsea Cameron
This short story portrays the life of a farmer and his family living off the land in the 18th century. The family is very resourceful as they use an ox-cart for the transportation of their food and goods so that they can sell the items to make a living. I think the story gives such a great lesson to young kids who are growing up in a very technology dependent world. The lesson being portrayed is that the earth really can provide everything that is needed to survive. Things that young kids believ ...more
Jan 07, 2016 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: caldecott
1980 Caldecott Medal - Favorite Illustration: The winter scene where the family is tapping the trees for maple syrup and the sky is lit up by the sun - so beautiful!
This was a fun story about how people used to work the land they lived on and sold the excess to buy things they couldn't make themselves. My daughter (6) was having a hard time understanding why the man sold everything (especially the ox), and we had to have a talk about how the farmers didn't have a Target to run to whenever they n
My 7 year old daughter really liked this book, reading it a few times while I had it checked out from the library. I was impressed to see/be reminded of their industry. They worked hard, used everything, and had few (almost no) luxuries. Yet there seemed to be a contentment and happiness among the family and a recognition of and gratitude for what they did have. A simple, gentle but lovely story that gives a glimpse into daily life in this era.
Nov 26, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
This book was really sweet, the illustrations were lovely and homey, plus I loved all the details of how hard this family worked to make a living. I really enjoyed this book, it was simple, but profound. Definitely something I would recommend.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Jan 04, 2016 Judy rated it liked it
Shelves: caldecott
I expected to like this book ... but it was disappointing. It basically describes rural life during the colonial period. Maybe it would be of more interest to a child who knows nothing about that era. Maybe, with the right companion, a child could imagine living with the ox-cart family and wonder what they would like better and what they wouldn't like about life pre-modern technology.
Mar 22, 2012 Satia rated it liked it
This one is a cute story with a lot to say about work ethics and how a family can work together. You might want to read this along with The Little House books at some point if your younger child especially liked this picture book growing up. For more:
Amar Pai
Feb 18, 2015 Amar Pai rated it did not like it
Shelves: kids-books
This book is terribly dull. It's like reading someone's extremely boring grocery list. I can't even remember what all the ox-cart man had but I think pickles that he made for pickle season... cloth for clothing... turnips that were pickled for pickle season... decorative gourds...
Dec 12, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
A great educational book for your children of all ages. My 6 yr old loved it as well as my 3 yr old twins. Lots of good information with beautiful pictures that will help keep children engaged. We really enjoyed the illustrations as well. A great addition to any children's library.
Jul 08, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Josette
I really liked this book, but it is way too advanced for Catherine and Santi right now. I can see us re-reading it in a year or so. I think it would be especially helpful to teach biblical concepts of discipline and preparation - along the lines of the ant and the grasshopper yada yada.
Sep 13, 2008 Lauralee rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-children
Tells about the circular nature of life. Parallelism and repetition make this an easy read for emerging readers.
Mar 02, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A good story telling where things come from on a farm, what they are made into and how they are sold.
Oct 17, 2016 Nichole rated it it was ok
Shelves: 21-30
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ages: 3-5
Awards: Caldecott Medal

This story was about a man who made a living off of his, and his family's, items. Every year, in October, he set out to sell all his merchandise like clothes, produce, an ox, ox items, and an ox cart. The story gives a timeline of the process the family goes through to make sure everything is ready to sell so they can earn some spare change.

Prompt Questions:
What do you think this story will be about?
What time period do you believe
Sep 28, 2016 Lydia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A farmer travels to market with all the goods his family has made, sells off the goods then returns home and he and his family start to make more goods for next year.

An interesting look at colonial life, including goods and a basic hard-working lifestyle. The cool part to me was how the family works together and even the kids have skills and talents that they can use to help their family.

No content issues, though the animal lover may be a bit sad when he sells the ox (and kisses it on the nose

Alex Brack
Sep 28, 2016 Alex Brack rated it really liked it
Shelves: el230
A award winning book for illustrations and the picture truly do help tell the story and give the words a feeling. A feeling in tone and texture. The story is a very good positive message of work hard and reap the rewards and less can be more when you have an amazing family to work with and come home too. I really liked the story and the pictures were just a cherry on top of cake.
Mikaela Rizik
Sep 11, 2016 Mikaela Rizik rated it really liked it
I thought this was a great book for children, even adults. This is about a family on a farm who make goods throughout the year and the father takes it, using an Ox-Cart, to the market to sell it so the family can make money to buy items they need for the next year. What was great about this book was how historical it was, around the 18th to 19th century, and I feel there are not many historical children picture books like this.
This is a very high quality children's picture book because the image
Stefani Sloma
Jul 21, 2014 Stefani Sloma rated it really liked it
You can also read this review and more on my blog, Caught Read Handed.

Ox-Cart Man was a book recommended to me by the branch manager at the library where I work. He told me that it was a simple story and that he cries every time he reads it. I had to check it out.

Ox-Cart Man follows a man in early nineteenth-century New England as he packs up everything his family has grown and made in the past year to sell in the market. All of his family’s goods are packed into the main character’s cart and ta
Jan 21, 2014 Evan rated it liked it
'Ox-Cart Man' is a classic award-winning children's picture book written by poet Donald Hall and published in 1979. The beautiful illustrations by Barbara Cooney are full of realistic details captured in watercolors that are reminiscent of Thomas Kincaid paintings. Set in New England, it tells the story of an unnamed man on the outset of a journey to sell goods grown, made or collected at his farm by himself or his family (wife, son and daughter), evoking a theme of industriousness that runs the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
MCC Children's Li...: Picture books 1 1 Feb 11, 2012 09:16PM  
  • The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot July 25, 1909
  • Time of Wonder
  • The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
  • The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles
  • Saint George and the Dragon
  • Frog Went a-Courtin'
  • Always Room for One More
  • A Story, a Story
  • Noah's Ark
  • Song of the Swallows
  • Once a Mouse...
  • Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions
  • Song and Dance Man
  • Chanticleer and the Fox
  • Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
  • The Biggest Bear
  • White Snow, Bright Snow
  • The Big Snow
Donald Hall was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of sixteen—the same year he had his first work published. He earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1951 and a B. Litt. from Oxford in 1953.

Donald Hall has published numerous books of poetry, most recently White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1
More about Donald Hall...

Share This Book