Day 11 of First Lines of Caldecott Winners: “The Ox-Cart Man” by Donald Hall & Barbara Cooney

Mark, Sarah &  M

As some of you may know, competitive speech presentations were a big part of my junior and senior high experience. In a round-about way, they even led to me meeting Mark. Our paths crossed a couple times in high school through NDSU Speech Camp and other youthful activities, like regional Luther League and the like. We “bumped” into one another on Facebook during our 30’s, and had lunch after meeting face-to-face at the Fargo Library. Thank you to his parents for forcing him to go to Speech Camp, otherwise would we have ever met? Maybe…

This is all to say, one of my first successful experiences with competitive speech was when I presented, The Wagon Man, by Arthur Crowley and Annie Gusman.

The Wagon Man by Arthur Crowley

Would I have ever  mistakenly read, Ox-Cart Man a couple years ago if I hadn’t first thought it was my long lost junior high speech presentation? Maybe.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall & Barbara Cooney

One of the first lines of the 1980 Caldecott Winner, Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall & Barbara Cooney, is, “In October, he backed his ox into his cart/and he and his family filled it up/with everything they made or grew all year long/that was left over.”

Ox-Cart Man is written without much punctuation. Some might say Ox-Cart Man is written in a more poetic form, and ends the line by creating a new line of text. It’s intentional, and it is beautiful.

The story itself tells the story of a family living off the land, and how their activities all year long contribute to their daily subsistence for a new year.

An Idea Prompt for PiBoIdMo 2013 is: 

The Ox-Cart Man Idea Prompt

Afterthought: I have to believe I would have read Ox-Cart Man one way or another, simply because Ox-Cart Man inspires me with its story of family, hard work and the simplicity of telling a good story. I feel Ox-Cart Man was meant for me to read, just like I have to believe Mark and I would have met regardless of meeting initially during high school. (Maybe we would have tripped over one another at the library, or asked to borrow a pen from the other at the computer desks. Who knows?)

I do know that if you have the heart to write a children’s story, it is meant to be. Family, hard work and the complex simplicity of telling a good story in a few words will get you there. I really believe that, and hope you have a great and enjoyable journey on the way to your story becoming published.

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