Reviews for Mailing May


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 1997
Ages 5^-8. Based on an incident that occurred in Idaho in 1914, this story tells of little May, who longs to visit her grandmother. May's parents cannot afford a railway ticket for the 75-mile trip, but with the help of cousin Leonard, who mans the mail car on the train, May's father takes advantage of the new parcel post regulations: he presents his daughter at the station post office as a package he's mailing to Lewiston. Affixing 53 cents in stamps to the back of her coat, the good-natured postmaster checks May in as poultry ("biggest baby chick on record"), and Leonard delivers her to Grandma's house the next day. Told in the first person from May's point of view, the story has a folksy quality and a ring of truth that will hold children's interest beyond the central anecdote. Rand's watercolor illustrations beautifully evoke the period and the feelings of the well-drawn characters. Particularly helpful in bringing the past to life are his essentially narrative style and the inclusion of small, sepia-toned paintings of photographs beside the large full-color paintings. ((Reviewed Aug. 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
May's parents cannot afford a train ticket to send her to visit her grandmother, so her father and uncle Leonard devise a scheme to send her on the train as a parcel. In his author's note, Tunnell provides the historical origins of his story (May's journey occurs in 1914) and cites as one of his best sources the personal account left by the real uncle Leonard. Rand's broad watercolor scenes aptly convey a sense of the period. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1997 #5
May's parents cannot afford a train ticket to send her on a promised visit to her grandmother, so her father and uncle devise a scheme to send her on the train as a parcel. Early one morning, with a mailing label and fifty-three cents worth of stamps affixed to her coat, May boards the imposing train, where her uncle Leonard is in charge of the mail car. Seventy-five miles later-having gotten through the rugged mountainous Idaho terrain and a challenge from the conductor-May arrives safely at her grandmother's house. In his concluding author's note, Tunnell provides the historical origins of his story (May's journey occurs in 1914, soon after the U.S. Postal Office Department established the parcel post service) and cites as one of his best sources the personal account left by the real uncle Leonard who devised the interesting solution to May's problem. Although lighting is sometimes garish and portraiture clich d, Ted Rand's broad watercolor scenes aptly convey a sense of the period. The interiors of Alexander's Department store and the Post Office are warm and engaging, and readers will savor the striking views of the train and its mail room. Small sepia paintings appear as photographs tacked to the larger illustrations along with such small bits of realia as postage stamps and a train schedule. The jacket painting-a life-size view of May's suitcase tied with rope-and the bold title-page silhouette of the train high atop a "spidery trestle" are most inviting. m.a.b. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 June #2
Necessity, as always the mother of invention, inspired this true story culled from U.S. postal lore. May's parents promise her a visit to her grandmother, but when a train ticket through the Idaho mountains is too expensive, her father comes up with a unique solution: he mails her by parcel post instead. Postal regulations in 1914 prohibit the shipment of "lizards or insects or anything smelly," but say nothing about girls, and so the congenial postmaster duly classifies May as a baby chick, glues fifty-three cents worth of stamps and a delivery tag onto her coat and sends her on her way, under the protective wing of her mother's cousin Leonard (who, not coincidentally, happens to man the train's mail car). Tunnell (The Children of Topaz) recounts this quirky slice of Americana with color and flair (a steam engine is described as "hissing and snorting like a boar hog"). Rand's (Fair!, reviewed below) expressive, slightly sentimental watercolors do justice to the period setting. Brimming with detail, from the clothing styles to the tin ceiling in the general store and the pigeon-holed interior of the railway mail car, they incorporate a scattering of renderings of stamps and sepia-toned photographs as well, adding texture to the fictionalized account. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 September
Five-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff begs to visit her grandmother, but her parents cannot afford to send her. In Idaho in 1914, the train is the only way to make the 75-mile trip over the mountains. The Pierstorffs come up with an unusual solution mailing May. Sending her as a package is a third of the cost, and since her mother's cousin Leonard handles the railroad mail car, she does not have to travel alone. Children will delight in the fantasy aspects of the tale even after they discover that the story is true. Tunnell describes his research in an author's note. Rand's watercolor illustrations are masterful, as is the design of the book as a whole. The intriguing cover is made to look like a suitcase. With the tweed of the traveling bag as a backdrop, the title is framed in the shape of a postage stamp, and two other old-fashioned stamps and a "photograph" of May holding the same suitcase are featured. The device of the painted photographs or other pieces of realia such as a postal tag or train schedule appear throughout the book's glowing two-page spreads and add to the story's authenticity. This well-crafted presentation provides a brief, but sweet, glimpse into the past. Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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