HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hello, the Boat!
Author: Phyllis Crawford
Illustrator: Edward Laning
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 1938
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Crawford, Phyllis. Hello, the Boat! (published in 1938 and republished in 1967 by Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc., 383 Madison Ave., New York City, NY 10017). It is 1817, and the Doak family has left the farm in Virginia and now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. There are father George, mother Biddy, sixteen year old daughter Susan, fourteen year old son Steve or Red, ten year old son David or Bub, and their two pointer dogs Brownie and Patch. But Father wants to move further west to Cincinnati, OH, so he arranges with Mr. Riddle for the whole family to sail a store boat with pots and pans, hardware, bonnets, dry goods and Yankee notions down the Ohio River. They should make enough money by stopping whenever settlers call “Hello, the boat!” and selling their wares along the way to buy a farm and build a new house near Cincinnati. Mother, who was a teacher, will homeschool the children during their travels (the children read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Walter Scott’s Waverly, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe). While en route they are joined by George’s good friend known as Pappy.
Then as they get close to their destination, Pappy disappears and all the money in their till is missing. How do they manage to survive when the river floods? What happened to Pappy and the money? Will they ever see him again? And can they make a fresh start without funds? This children’s historical novel by Phyllis Crawford, published in 1938, was a Newbery Honor recipient in 1939. There are some colloquial euphemisms (tarnation, dang, blamed, confounded), a couple of references to drinking whiskey and rum, and a few instances of smoking a pipe. However, the book combines accurate information about the time period and its tall tales with an adventuresome story that recreates the life of young people in that day. The plot is exciting, the Doak family is charming, and there are interesting characters whom they meet on their journey. It would make a great movie.