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Boy With a Pack

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Set in 1837, this work of historical fiction for young people follows the journey of seventeen-year-old trader Bill Crawford from New Hampshire to the Ohio Country.
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published June 28th 1939 by Harcourt Brace and Company (first published 1939)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  54 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Boy With a Pack well exemplifies Stephen W. Meader's writing style, I'm given to believe. First published in 1939, the story follows the lone journey of almost-seventeen-year-old Bill Crawford as he crosses the United States from New Hampshire to Ohio in the early 1800s, in hopes of starting a career as a peddler of wares. The future looks none too bright for Bill if he hangs around home; with nought but a low-paying, back-breaking job in manual labor awaiting him in New Hampshire, his chances o ...more
Thomas Bell
Aug 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
I thought that it was a pretty good book. I will disagree with some other comments people have left. The book is not racist. In my opinion, it is not racist to have a runaway slave talk like their uneducated. It is just realistic. I wish it wasn't, but telling the truth isn't always what people want to hear.

Anyway, I did enjoy the book, but the boy was more lucky than clever. He took up a notion to possibly gamble his life away and everything turned out pretty good for him. And he helped a runaw
Michael Fitzgerald
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
A nice easy read. Reminds me of an early American Adam of the Road.

I was sorry to read another reviewer's ill-founded complaint about "demeaning and stereotypical" portrayals of the black ex-slaves. What would she rather have? A make-believe world where they speak perfect Latin and are insolent and resistant to those who are helping them escape? How ridiculous would that be?
Raymond Bial
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. It is a beautifully written and historically accurate portrayal of American life in 1837. Anyone who loves historical fiction about early America and settling the Old Northwest will enjoy this book. An American classic.
4.5-5 stars. Well-told historical novel of a young man (17 yrs old), Bill Crawford, who travels as a "Yankee peddler" from his home in New Hampshire into Ohio. It's 1837 and while Bill does much of the journey on foot, he is not averse to getting rides on wagons from time to time, and at one point he works as a horse driver on the Erie canal. There quite a lot of adventure on the way as Bill meets various people (a canal cook and canal boatman, a horse trader, thieves, a bear hunter, a slave own ...more
Steve Ward
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-award
This is an enjoyable book of adventure with some interesting historical information about the culture of the mid 1800's woven into the story. There were some predictable portions of the story but still enough intrigue to keep me reading. Readers should be warned that during the part of the story dealing with runaway slaves the southern slave owner uses the N word to describe his property. For that reason I think a young reader should be 12 and over and have an appropriate conversation ahead of r ...more
Amber Scaife
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
In the 1830's a young man decides to invest what little savings he has in a peddler's pack and heads west from New England to Ohio. He has all sorts of adventures, both fun and dangerous, along the way, makes new friends, helps various folks out, and decides on a path for his life.
This Newbery Honor book was surprisingly good. Bill - the main character - is easy to root for and the story moves along at a good pace, with some honest-to-goodness seat-edgy moments scattered throughout.
Eyes of the Owl BQQKS
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stephen-w-meader
A historic novel where a New Hampshire boy starts selling things out of a pack in order to earn his living as he heads west. Haven't read this in some decades, but it is excellent. ...more
Philip Dampier
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, my-books
Exciting story of the early days of America and the adventures of a young man setting out to see the world and pay his own way. Lots of things going on and the history is great. Love this book.
Sarah Gallini
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorite books by one of my all-time favorite authors. :) I grew up reading this book and i still love it after all these years. A great old fashioned adventure story.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

On an April morning in 1837, seventeen-year-old New Hampshire native Bill Crawford picks up his peddler's pack and sets off for Ohio, hoping to see some new sights and to earn more than the two dollars he could make working at the local mill. Along the way, he acquires a few animal friends, encounters unpleasant enemies in the form of a crooked horse trader and a slave owner searching for runaways, and finds a series of allies to help him rea
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. However, I did not at all like the demeaning and stereotypical portrayal of the two runaway slaves Bill encounters. (Fortunately Bill didn't meet an Native Americans, as I'm sure they would have received similar treatment!) If the author had portrayed the black man and boy more sensitively, I might have given the book 4 stars. However, the book was published in 1939, and many cultural depictions in books of that era are appalling, so I am at least g ...more
Rodney Haydon
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, but then again, I seem to enjoy every book that Stephen W. Meader has written.
I agree with other reviews that it seems that Bill Crawford was a little too lucky at times on his travels.
However, I don't agree that the portrayal of the runaway slaves was demeaning in the book. Then again, I don't agree with the decision to edit Mark Twain's books either.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery
This was another boy adventure book but I felt that the main character was rather conveniently taken care of on his travels.
for my review of this book see my blog ...more
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Stephen W. Meader (May 2, 1892 – July 18, 1977) was the author of over forty novels for young readers. His optimistic stories generally tended to either concern young men developing independent businesses in the face of adversity, or else young men caught up in adventures during different periods in American history.

Meader graduated from Haverford College in Philadelphia in 1913, and initially wor

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