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Ox-Cart Man

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  14,087 ratings  ·  542 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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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  14,087 ratings  ·  542 reviews

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What a wonderful story. Barbara Cooney's illustrations are gorgeous, such beautiful colours and scenes. I love the illustration of the winter scene with snow and pink sky, it reminded me of Bruegel scenes.

In autumn a farmer packs his cart with all their surplus harvest and home made goods to take to sell at market. It's a long way to the market, when he gets there, not only does he sell his wares but he sells his cart and the ox that pulls it. When he says goodbye to his ox he kisses it on the n
David Schaafsma
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
RIP Donald Hall, at 89.

Poet Donald Hall's children's book about a man and his family living his life in New England. The simple repetitions of the prose mirror the simple, regular life he lives in keeping with the land. The illustrations by Barbara Cooney seem old fashioned... which help us see that this way of life has been around for centuries... there's a lot of muted but still vibrant, warm colors in the illustrations and love and admiration for the man and his family and his way of living a
Now with regard to Ox-Cart Man I indeed absolutely do 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). And in my opinion, by contrast and comparison, Donald Hall's presented text, while it is for the most part a more than adequate mirror of the illustrations, I do tend to find it somewhat overly positive and saccharinely optimistic. For the poetic narrative never really seems to expand all th ...more
This was a lovely peaceful book about what appears to be an amish family. We see a family who have made all kinds of goods over the winter load them in their ox cart and their dad take them to Portsmouth to sell everything including the Ox. He walks home and they start making everything all over again.

I thought the art really was beautiful. Bold colors for each season and there is a real sense of family unity in this story. This is about cycles of life. Life has a natural progression and this f
Aug 03, 2014 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.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Perhaps as much so as any other Caldecott Medal winner, Ox-Cart Man finds the power of its telling chiefly through its incredible artwork by Barbara Cooney.

I think of Barbara Cooney as quite likely the hardest-working illustrator in the children's literature history, given her tendency to go the extra mile (or 2,000 miles!) collecting research for the scenes she creates. In Ox-Cart Man, Barbara Cooney brilliantly evokes the scenes of the simple life portrayed in the story. At times, I hardly n
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
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
Feb 09, 2009 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.
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
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Caldecott Medal 1980

I had just finished reading this book and it was laying open on my kitchen table when my husband came in and asked me what I was doing. I told him that I had just read a children's book and that I really liked it, I actually gave it five stars. He took one look at the page I had it opened to and said, " Is that Ox-Cart Man? I loved that book as a kid!"

I think my husband's reaction/ memory speaks volumes. It's simply a special book. I even googled real photos from the early 1
The illustrations are just beautiful, detailed and nostalgic, and the story is educational. Lovely children's book.
Ms. B
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love Barbara Cooney's illustrations in what I consider a classic Caldecott. Learn about the changes in the seasons in early-mid 1800s through the eyes of a New Englander and his family.
Mike Smith
Jun 16, 2012 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
Luisa Knight
This book has been a favorite with both parents and children for 38 years. Barbara Cooney's pictures whimsically capture a farming era of yesteryear. Follow along as the Ox-Cart Man sells his wares, buys/trades for the winter and prepares for the year ahead.

Ages 3+


**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or co
Katie Fitzgerald
The text of this book is pretty bland and straightforward, but the illustrations are interesting in their resemblance of early nineteenth century folk art. This book makes a nice introduction to the time period for very young kids, or for an early elementary school unit on New England history. I like the way everything comes full circle in the end, getting ready for the whole cycle of the year to start again. It would make a nice companion for Apples to Oregon, which shows another slice of Ameri ...more
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.
Feb 23, 2012 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.
Shanna Gonzalez
Aug 10, 2009 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
Carol Bakker
Jan 27, 2016 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
Jun 27, 2014 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
Laura (Book Scrounger)
I remember enjoying this book as a child. Reading it again I still enjoy it, but wasn't sure whether it would have quite the appeal for young children like my kids, because it's just so... practical. There's a lot of making and buying and selling, and these aren't things that young children generally give much thought to (I was probably a bit older before I really got to like it). But, if you're trying to find a book that involves all of those things, and gives a glimpse of an earlier, simpler b ...more
Jun 30, 2008 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 14, 2010 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.
Apr 01, 2011 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.
Daniel Wilson

I remember reading this book as a kid, as well as I remember having this book read to me. It was a good book for me at the time, but now It just seemed a bit boring, as it should. So I am going to write about the value of this as a children’s book, instead of looking at it through a 20 year old’s eyes.

The plot of the book was cool. It talked about a farmer’s journey to market to sell goods, and hi return to his family. Then It talked through the following year telling of the makings of the good
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
* 3-1/2 stars*
I pulled this book off the shelf of books I have saved from my adult children’s childhood collection. I am not sure I have ever read the book but the title and cover have remained imprinted in my mind through the years.
Donald Hall has written a story recalling the steady and reassuring rhythm and cycle of the past years, New England farming life. It is appealing in its simplicity just as the rural life was simple in its requirements and it is appealing in its richness just as the
Alyssa Heun
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this book using the National Council of Social Studies Notable Trade Books for Young People. It is the winner of the Caldecott Medal.

The Ox- cart man packs his cart full of goods. He leaves his family and travels for ten days to arrive at Portsmouth and Portsmouth Market. There he sells all his items including all the materials that held the goods and his ox cart. He even sells his ox! He then takes his earnings and buys other goods for his family and his home that was needed. To get ho
This book is real slow. There’s nothing flashy to capture a toddlers attention but it’s very calming and soothing. I can’t read it without thinking about how my mom loved it. But also about how hard their lives are.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This picture book tells the story of a farmer and his family who gather the things they make and grow to sell during the early 1800's in NH. The items included apples, maple syrup, potatoes, turnips and other vegetables, honey, mittens knit of spun wool from their sheep, and linens made from flax they grew, as well as other things. The father brings these goods on an ox-cart to the market in Portsmouth, NH and the trip takes 10 days. It is beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
This story can
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Donald Hall was an American poet, writer, editor and literary critic. 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. Donald Hall published numerous books of poetry. Besides poetry, Donald Hall wrote books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore. He was also the author ...more

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