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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple
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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,065 Ratings  ·  200 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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Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Anna Smith
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: California Morning Whipple is a young girl during the California Gold Rush! Her father passed away her mother moved them to California to try and find some luck! But California hated living their so much she changed her name to Lucy Whipple and refused to be called anything other than that! After a while she learns that home is where her family is and soon doesn't mind living their.
Grade Level -4th-5th
Classroom use: I would read excerpts when going over the Gold Rush
Individual Use: I wo
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: kerry-s-books, 07-08
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
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rana Burr
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Emma Jane
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
"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

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
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
"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
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Ginger Smith
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Libby Ames
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, book-club
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
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Reread this on an airplane last week and remembered how much I like Karen Cushman's historical novels. Ostensibly for kids, they are all very realistic and fairly gritty looks at (mostly) girls' experiences in different time periods. This one takes place during the gold rush in California. California Whipple (who hates her name and soon changes it to Lucy) has been dragged from her beloved home is Massachusetts when her widowed mother decides to live out the dream she and her late husband had of ...more
Laura Brendle
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a History teacher, I love historical fiction. I feel like the book does a great job of capturing what life was like during the push for westward expansion. It is very kid friendly and is written in such a way that kids can relate to the struggles of a girl having to give up her friends and "home" to move across the country when it wasn't that easy. This book does an excellent job of broaching several topics that can be difficult for some kids to understand - particularly slavery and in some c ...more
Kandyce Barber
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Stephanie Nawrocki
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it

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
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Middle School
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Another work of historical fiction starring a strong female teenager from Karen Cushman. The Ballad of Lucy Whipple is set in a California gold rush town and features the antics of Lucy Whipple who hates the fact that her family has moved to Lucky Diggins where there are no roads, no buildings, and (worst of all) no books. When Lucy has the opportunity to leave, however, she realizes the people around her have made Lucky Diggins her home.

This is solid historical fiction for middle and high schoo
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
loved the book, and the movie.
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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
More about Karen Cushman...

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“Minds, like diapers, need occasional changing.” 11 likes
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