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The Jumping Off Place

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Orphaned siblings Becky, Dick, Phil, and Joan have inherited a homestead in 1910 South Dakota. But to keep the land or sell it they must first live there for 14 months. Not sure if they can live in the remote prairie for that long they decide to try anyway. They deal with unexpected expenses, unpleasant neighbors, claim jumpers, bad weather, and other problems, but eventua ...more
Kindle Edition, 163 pages
Published July 12th 2013 by EirenikosPress (first published January 1st 1929)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  178 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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This book follows the story of Becky (17), Dick (15), Phil (10) and Joan (8) Linville as they leave behind their home in Platteville, Wisconsin to homestead out in South Dakota in 1910. Their beloved Uncle Jim squatted the claim last fall, before his untimely death, and the children are determined to live out Uncle Jim's dream for him. Though he laid out detailed instructions for the children, homesteading is far more difficult than any of the Linvilles ever anticipated. First there's a family o ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I began to read The Jumping-Off Place by book light in a camp bunk with barely a glance at the cover. There was a lovely old-fashioned quality to the writing and the characters that surprised me until I looked more closely the next day and realized that the book was written in 1929.

This is a wonderful story, set in one of the last bits of the frontier after the turn of the twentieth century. Four orphans, having just lost their beloved uncle, travel to South Dakota to "prove up" his claim. They
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
It’s a rare fiction book that I’ll rate 5 stars. I didn’t even hesitate to give this one that rating. Even though it is a children’s book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m afraid it will always be compared with Laura Ingles Wilder’s books. The same love of the prairie, the same care for family, the same selfless labor for each other, the same harsh natural elements, the same rugged people, the same feeling of community permeates both books, but it can stand on its own merits.
McNeely wrote a heart
Lynette Caulkins
I'd probably bump this 1929 book to 3.5 if we could. I enjoyed reading about young people making their way in the midwest land claim era of United States history. This was something like reading a youth version of My Antonia.

Unfortunately, the book's audience is limited to caucasians, as Native Americans would be entirely offput at the very beginning with the homophobic reference to "dirty Indians" and a rather glib glancing off of the fact that the Rosebud Reservation was opened to settlers by
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how I could have missed this book growing up... I loved the pioneer stories I read, especially as I got older and realized I KNEW pioneers among my great aunts and uncles (my grandfather, too) had all traveled by cover wagon across the country. I also happen to know of a family of abandoned children during the Depression, who lived out of a car, by themselves, ages infant to young teen. So I know what kids are capable of doing and surviving.This story of children homesteading in the ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I discovered this book when it was advertised on a flyer sent to my library promoting Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder's first autobiographical manuscript that was recently edited and released to great excitement and acclaim. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press published both books. The Jumping-Off Place is a young adult novel originally published in 1929 (when it won the Newbery Honor); it was republished by the Press in 2008. As it covers the pioneer/homesteader territory I love ...more
Angie Lisle
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I've wavered over my star-rating for this 1930s Newbery Honor Book. I lean to three-stars for the modern writing style, which will appeal to today's children, especially if read following the vintage writing style of the Newbery predecessors. This book is easy to read and is oft compared to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. I do recommend reading this book following that series because this story attempts to fill in some of the gaps in Wilder's tales, helping to round out the hardships ...more
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read the Newbery winners and Newbery honor books through the years but I am sorry I missed this one until now. South Dakota State Historical Society has reprinted it and I am so glad. I won this in LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and started on it right away. At first it struck me as similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books which were a favorite when I was a child. I actually wrote to Mrs. Wilder when I was in fourth grade and I got back a photo and information. I quickly turne ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"(I)t wasn't the being a martyr, but the feeling yourself one, that made hardship."

The Jumping-Off Place, P. 79

There's just something about homesteading that seems to provide all the necessary elements for a book worthy of winning a Newbery. You have the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which spawned an incredible five books retroactively cited as Newbery Honors, and New Land by Sarah Lindsay Schmidt, a 1934 Newbery Honoree. There's 1986 Newbery Medal winner Sarah, Plain and Tall
I confess that based on the description that this was the 1930 book I was most interested in reading, and I'm pleased that it didn't disappoint. Set in the 1900s four young orphans move from a small town in Wisconsin to the Dakota prairie to "prove" a land claim established by their uncle the previous year. The uncle had taken them (and mother) in on the death of their father, kept them when the mother died, and dies himself of complications of a stroke before the book's story begins. The "child ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can’t believe that I missed this book growing up. The Jumping-Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely is a marvelous story of the pioneer spirit so well portrayed by these four orphans. I would have loved it as a child seeing how teens and children made it in a world that was difficult even for adults. It is sort of a cross between the Box Car Children and Little House on the Prairie, while also being uniquely its own story.

These siblings are living out their late uncle’s dream by homesteading in So
Steve Ward
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-award
This book was so interesting that I couldn't put it down. It helped that it was set in my home state South Dakota but it was the excellent writing that kept me captivated. The author didn't hold back on telling about the hardships endured by the four children mostly brought on by a bully squatter family. She also tells how difficult it was to live (or die) on the open prairie in 1910. I'd recommend this book to any reader interested in pioneer living.
Similar to the Little House books but actually published before those. Also, more realistic in some ways, showing more of the hardships and realities of prairie life, and yet less realistic, since the four children are on their own. A decent Newbery honor book for the time period.
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good story for children of all ages. The detailed descriptions of the beauty and harshness of the landscape paint a picture. I recommend it to all readers, and as a read-aloud likely to prompt curious questions from young listeners.
You have to read this book knowing that it was written in 1930 about 1910.
Emily M
Oh, this was charming. The children were real, imperfect but brave, and the homesteading challenges would be familiar to any Little House or Little Britches fans. My kids will eat this up.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor
4+⭐ ...more
Ms. Yingling
Copy from the Ohio E Book Project

One thing that older titles really do well is children having adventures ALONE. Like Warner's The Boxcar Children(1942) or Margery Williams Bianco Winderbound (1936), this book asks us to blithely believe that children can go off to stake a claim and live in a barn after their guardian dies. If they stay there long enough, they can have the land. Of course, this is gravely problematic when it comes to the treatment of Native Americans, so I won't be buying it, bu
After Uncle Jim dies, the four Linville children set off to Tripp County, South Dakota to finish proving up their homestead claim. Uncle Jim has left detailed month-by-month instructions and kind neighbors help the small family begin their new lives. Life is hard but Dick and Becky find beauty in the prairie and pull their live together with determination and hard work. Like the family in Strawberry Girl, the Linvilles have their own mean, good-for-nothing neighbors and suffer through unkind act ...more
Jane Healy
A novel for young people by Marian Hurd McNeely, it won the Newbery Honor Medal in 1930, and was published before Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing her famous series. Set in the early 1900's in Tripp County, South Dakota, the book tells how four siblings head west to prove up their uncle's claim. This land was some of the last opened for homesteading. The heat and drought in summer, the cold and blizzards in winter, plowing the virgin prairie, and dealing with contested claims made this a harsh ...more
Thomas Bell
This reminded me a little bit of the 'Little House on the Prairie' series. But there were big differences. A grandfather to 4 kids decides to homestead in the early 1900's in South Dakota. He starts to plow and everything, but he dies before he can move there with the kids. Completely orphaned, they decide to leave their aunt, whom they really don't like, and try to prove up on the homestead. They face good neighbors as well as bad, and just when things seem the worst everything just kind of wor ...more
D.J. Adamson
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working a homestead in South Dakota in 1910 would be hard for anyone. Yet, four orphaned sibilings are put to the task. If you enjoy reading books like Little House on the Prairie, you will enjoy following the story of these four as they battle weather, bad neighbors, claim jumping, and the worry of having enough money to take them all the way to establishing their claim.
No matter whether you are 12 or 20, you will find yourself turning the pages of this book enthralled with the story Marian Hu
Wendy Roberts
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kids and I read this together prior to our trip to South Dakota. They always seem to enjoy stories in which kids have to "make it on their own" without adults this one didn't disappoint. Lots of real descriptions of life as a homesteader and the many challenges...from rattlesnakes to squatters.
Maritza Vale
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like what the author is trying to tell us about determination in hard times. I choose this book because is set in South Dakota and tell us about the area and the extreme weather. The story is for big kids but is give them empathy and admiration for the characters, that are four youngest kid that become orphan and decide to make a trip to SD to fulfill their uncle dreams.
Christina Potter Bieloh
I'm making my way through all of the Newbery books and this was the first one that I was wishing would not end. I really enjoyed this pioneer story about four orphaned children who homestead in South Dakota. It's engaging, exciting and humorous. Excellent story!
Carol Schneider
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! If you loved the Little House on the Prairie I think you'll love this book too. A beautiful story about a different United States and the strength of character it took to be a settler.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, newbery
An interesting account of 4 siblings homesteading on their own in South Dakota in the early 1900s. It is based on the author's experience of homesteading (although as an adult). The story is a little bit dry but is fascinating for the clear account of the hardships faced by homesteaders.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and engaging look at homesteading by four youngsters who do make a go at it.
See Hattie Big Sky for another look at homesteading.
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