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  Ballad of Lucy Whipple
Ballad of Lucy Whipple
Clarion Books, 1996
ISBN 978-0395728062

Sandpiper, 2012
ISBN 978-0-547-72215-3

Dear Gram and Grampop,

Please do not address yours truly as California anymore, California Morning Whipple being a foolish name for a duck much less a girl. I call myself Lucy now. I cannot hate California and be California. I know you will understand.

California doesn’t suit Lucy Whipple—not the name, not the place. But moving out West to Lucky Diggins, California, was her mama’s dream-come-true. And now her brother, Butte, and sisters, Prairie and Sierra, seem to be Westerners at heart, too. For Lucy, Lucky Diggins is hardly a town at all — just a bunch of ramshackle tents and tobacco-spitting miners. Even the gold her mama claimed was just lying around in the fields isn’t panning out. Worst of all, there's no lending library! Dag diggety!

So Lucy vows to be plain miserable until she can hightail it back East where she belongs. But Lucy California Morning Whipple may be in for a surprise — because home is a lot closer than she thinks...

When California Morning Whipple’s widowed mother uproots her family from their comfortable Massachusetts environs and moves them to a rough mining camp called Lucky Diggins in the Sierras, California Morning resents the upheaval. Desperately wanting to control something in her own life, she decides to be called Lucy, and as Lucy she grows and changes in her strange and challenging new environment.

Please purchase this book at your local independent bookseller.


Discussion guide

My Bookshelves: 19th Century America: You may enjoy reading the books I read while researching the times in which Lucy lived. You may also find them helpful for your own writing.


Booklist Editors' Choice
School Library Journal, Best Books of the Year
New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
Booklinks Lasting Connections Selection
Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
IRA Teachers' Choice
American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists"
Texas Lone Star Reading List Selection
John and Patricia Beatty Award
ABC Children's Booksellers Choice Award


"Cushman's heroine is a delightful character, and the historical setting is authentically portrayed. Lucy's story, as the author points out in her end notes, is the story of many pioneer women who exhibited great strength and courage as they helped to settle the West."

"The recent Newbery medalist plunks down two more strong-minded women, this time in an 1849 mining camp—a milieu far removed from the Middle Ages of her first novels, but not all that different when it comes to living standards. ... With a story that is less a period piece than a timeless and richly comic coming-of-age story, Cushman remains on a roll."

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