Title: The Great Turkey WalkThe Great Turkey Walk
Author: Kathleen Karr
Pages: 197
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

Great cattle drives? Yeah, I’ve heard of those. Great turkey walks? Uh, not so much. But in this hilariously adventurous tale, Kathleen Karr convinces us that perhaps turkey walks are the more exciting of the two…..

The Story.

Simple Simon is a pea-brained boy. Pea-brained. Or at least, that’s what Aunt Maybelle says. But then Aunt Maybelle has never really liked Simon. Neither has her husband Lucas or her persnickety sons Homer, Ned, and Marcus who think Simon is trying to cheat them out of their inheritance. The only person who truly likes Simon is Miss Rogers who, after Simon’s fourth year through the third grade, decided to graduate him from her school. Her reason for doing so, as she explains it to the fifteen year old, is that it’s time for him to spread his wings. Spread his wings? How in thunder is he supposed to do that….?

After casting about in his mind, Simon finds a way. His neighbor, Mr. Buffey, owns thousands of turkeys, and he says that though they only go for a quarter each here in Missouri, they can sell for as high as five dollars a head in Denver, Colorado. Simon is about to spread his wings….

But first he requires an investor. Miss Rogers supplies the funds. And a drover. Mr. Birdwell Peece is happy to come along for ten percent of the proceeds. And the turkeys…… easier bought than herded, it turns out. Between foxes, rustlers, cavalrymen, hungry townspeople, and the flighty birds themselves, Simon and his outfit have their work hacked out for them.

Can Simon and Birdwell even cross the first river they come to, much less a few states?

Praises.

The Great Turkey Walk was written in that style which is steadily humorous with a few explosions of comedy here and there. It’s a fun read because it’s almost gentle in its exaggerations and character sketches.

Although introduced to us as Simple Simon, Simon shows a very keen business sense, and is quite the entrepreneur. He is also a very kind boy, helping the unfortunates that he comes across in his travels.

Cautions.

While traveling through Missouri, Simon stops off in Jefferson City to attend a circus. While there…..

“I near forgot about finding my long-lost pa in the doings of the next hour or so. The show started off with a pretty lady hanging from this little bitty swing right under the tent roof. Swaying to the music, she did some amazing tricks up there. It was kind of hard to concentrate on the tricks, though, on account of the fact that she’s wearing next to nothing. I swear. My eyes near to popped out at them delicate legs covered in naught but tight yellow stockings. And the rest of her done up in something shiny – with not a whole lot of that, either. Well, mine wasn’t the only eyes popping, I can say that much.” [pg. 57]

Reference is made that a few other ladies are less than fully dressed.

After Simon and his outfit rescue Lizzie, it becomes clear that Lizzie and Simon are *ahem* attracted to one another. However, Simon never notices that their liking is mutual and assumes that since Lizzie is older than he, she couldn’t be interested in him. This misunderstanding calls for a clarifying conversation in which they both admit to liking each other. The scene can hardly be called lovey-dovey because Lizzie finds Simon’s worries hilarious.

“Simon Green!” she gasped out, tears streaming down her face. Then she let out a belly laugh like no other I’d ever heard. She must’ve been holding it in so that it hurt something fierce. “Simon Green, you great, hulking, blundering idiot!”

“What, Lizzie? What’d I do? I’ll make it better, I swear to heaven—“

“You think a few months, or even a year makes any difference when two people have a feeling for each other?”

I dropped my hands from her and stepped back as her first batch of words registered. “Malign me all you want, Miss Lizzie. Won’t be the first time in my life for that to happen.”

She swiped at her face with the hem of her dress. The tears was still coming. “I’m not maligning you, you. . . you turkey-brained fool!”

That stopped me in my tracks. Turkey-brained had to be an improvement over pea-brained. From where I stood and the experiences I’d been through on this here great turkey walk, I’d have to admit to that point. Progress was being made.

She swiped at her face again. “I’m trying to tell you I like you, Simon. A whole lot.”

Light began to dawn, slowly but surely. Even though the sun had only just set. “You mean to say it don’t matter about you being sixteen—–“

Lizzie’s entire body went into those spasms again over that word. I soldiered on.

“—and me being fifteen?” I kept on plowing directly ahead. “Not to mention me being turkey-brained and all?”

Lizzie was sobbing now. I waited patiently for the sobs to settle. It took a while before she turned to me.

“You have more natural good sense – and goodness – than anyone I’ve ever met before in my entire life. Aside from this age business. Do you believe me, Simon?”

I scratched my head. “I guess so. And it’s mighty nice of you to put it like that—-“

“Come here, Simon,” Lizzie ordered.

I edged closer.

“If you promise, solemnly promise, to treat me like a normal girl, you may give me a kiss.”

I gulped. “I promise. I surely do, Lizzie. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Good. But you can forget about the dying part.” She pointed to her cheek. “Right here.”

I aimed for where she pointed, but I always was a bit clumsy. Was it my fault it was her lips I found instead?” [pgs. 170-172]

The scene’s anything but passionate, yet it still has the seed of romance in it.

Finally, for nearly the entire book, Simon works to outwit and defeat his father. Admittedly, his father has resigned any authority over Simon through his abdication, and he is a criminal.

‘Son of a gun’, ‘tarnation’, and ‘the devil’, are each used several times while ‘Hades’, ‘durn’, ‘godawful’, ‘dickens’, ‘damnation’, ‘dang’, and ‘godforsaken’ are each used once.

Conclusion. Great fun for appropriate readers. It’ll make you wish that you could troop out on a Great Turkey Walk of your own!

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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