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Ox-Cart Man

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  11,364 Ratings  ·  352 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)
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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 — 358 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
403rd out of 3,705 books — 5,374 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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 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
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
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
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,
Julia Brumfield
Jul 19, 2016 Julia Brumfield rated it liked it
This was one of the books that appeared somewhere in my childhood although the details aren't right there to grasp at the moment. It is a beautiful concept of making the past more interactive and reachable for younger readers but when re-reading it as an adult there are just some parts of it that doesn't make sense such as why sell off an animal that you have already trained to start over again or re-make a cart thus have to put in double the work.

The illustrations are gorgeous to look at and
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Bianca Greco
Mar 04, 2016 Bianca Greco rated it really liked it
OX-Cart Man would be great to read to children in grades K- 2, but I think it's more on a reading level of a 3rd or 4th grader. The book takes a journey with a New England family as they prepare during the months to sell their goods. Throughout the seasons the New Englander and his family work all year long stitching, whittling, tapping maple trees, growing produce, shearing sheep to get ready for Autumn so that they can sell the goods to make money. Each person in the family is responsible for ...more
Matthew Hunter
Very creative! First, the artwork. Beautiful fall scenes in rural New Hampshire; fine depictions of farm and town life in 19th century New England; memorable interiors of a covered wagon, farm house, barn, store - Ox-Cart Man is one aesthetically pleasing book! I loved the scene where the farmer sells his ox and says goodbye to him with a friendly kiss on the nose. The ox-cart man doesn't take his livestock and agricultural bounty for granted. He's a steward, not a mindless exploiter.

Second, the
Kathryn Anne
Ox-Cart Man written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney has some of the most beautiful art that I have ever seen in a children’s book. The book tells the story of a man and his family during colonial America and the process that they follow to live and survive throughout all of the seasons in one year. The book starts with the man’s journey with his ox and cart that lasts ten days in one direction where he goes to sell items that he and his family have made. When he arrives, he sell ...more
Alana Salcido
Sep 08, 2015 Alana Salcido rated it it was ok
As an older Caldecott winner, you can definitely see the age of the story and even the illustrations. It was a very old fashioned story and book altogether. The story focused on one family and their harvesting process throughout the months of the year. The story begins in October and the audience gets an idea of what it means to be a farmer, trader, etc. It's a very cyclical story that makes sense even to the most novice farmers in the audience. The story itself can be quite repetitive and doesn ...more
Kathryn Anne Russell
Ox-Cart Man written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney has some of the most beautiful art that I have ever seen in a children’s book. The book tells the story of a man and his family during colonial America and the process that they follow to live and survive throughout all of the seasons in one year. The book starts with the man’s journey with his ox and cart that lasts ten days in one direction where he goes to sell items that he and his family have made. When he arrives, he sell ...more
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
Kelly Borton
Mar 20, 2014 Kelly Borton rated it really liked it
Ox-Cart Man is a tale of an 18th century New England family. The father packs up the goods they produced and longer need. Some of these items are a bag of wool he sheared from a sheep, knitted mittens, produce they grew, and even their oxcart and ox. He took the money and purchased items the family needs. For example, an iron kettle and an embroidery needle. When the father returns home the cycle of creating goods from their resources of farming plants and animals; the family produces more goods ...more
Zether Zether
Nov 10, 2014 Zether Zether rated it did not like it
This book was extremely boring.The sentences were redundant. Many of them could have been made into a list instead of a sentence. If the individual sentences were not boring enough, the author formatted them to look like a poem. The problem with that is that there was no emotion, no rhythm, and no flow to warrant presenting it that way.

To be honest, the whole book was written like a to-do list. The farmer's family made different things. He sold those things at the market. He bought new things a
Jennifer Strong
Jul 25, 2016 Jennifer Strong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, 2016
A farmer and his family pack up their cart with the remaining produce and products they have harvested and made throughout the year. The farmer then walks ten days to get to the Portsmouth Market where he sells everything; a bag of sheep's wool, mittens his daughter knit, maple sugar they tapped from trees, brooms his son carved out of birch trees...even the cart, and ox that pulled it! He walks the long way home after buying a few necessities, and the whole family starts the process over again. ...more
This 1980 Caldecott Medal winner offers readers a glimpse back in time through its gentle text and subtle illustrations emulating an old-fashioned style of painting on wood. The book takes readers back in time several generations ago, reminding them of a time when most families were self-sustaining, and almost everything that they needed they made. Bounties were then sold or traded for whatever else they needed. In this case, one New England farmer loads up his ox-cart with goods, and then trave ...more
Stephanie Schilling
Apr 25, 2016 Stephanie Schilling rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book was all about pioneers and their lifestyles. This book is about the pioneer father’s trip to town and how they would get everything that they needed from town. This book was very well written, and had a cute story line that was only intensified by the pictures that accompanied each page. The illustrations in this book look like they are made with paint, and were very smooth like they were made on a computer program. The shapes like the cart, the market, and some other pieces look three ...more
Sep 06, 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.
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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...

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