Sunday, June 12, 2011


Boom Town Boy, Lois Lenski, J B Lippincott Company, 1948, 175 pp

The Sunday Family Read

Boom Town Boy takes place in Oklahoma during the oil boom, which began in the early 1920s but continued to bring change and prosperity for many years. It is the fifth book in Lois Lenski's American Regional Series.

The Robinson family are farmers in northern Oklahoma, an area called the Cherokee Strip which was first settled by pioneers in 1893. It is a region of high winds, poor soil, and little water. Farming is lots of hard work with little reward, so almost every family dreams of finding oil on their land. Grandfather Robinson is the biggest dreamer in the family, hoping to leave his children and grandchildren a better standard of living.

Oil does come to the Robinsons along with excitement, danger and plenty of change for all. Orvie, the eleven-year-old son, is thrilled with all of it but his mother is dismayed as her house and yard are gradually covered in greasy oil while she begins to run a boarding house for workers. A small community moves onto their land, building flimsy cabins and a tent city.

Once the oil money starts coming in they are suddenly rich. A large part of the story depicts how the family adjusts to their sudden fortune. Lots of detail on the development of an oil well and a few disasters keep up the interest and pace of the story, especially for Orvie.

Boom Town Boy is one of the most adventurous in the series so far, though Ms Lenski went a bit overboard on teaching the lesson about values versus riches. It would be a great read for a boy who likes historical subjects.

(Boom Town Boy is out of print, as are most of Lenski's American Regional Series volumes. If you have a good local library, that is the most likely place to find them. You can order used copies here.)

No comments:

Post a Comment