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JACKSON AND BUD’S BUMPY RIDE; America's First Cross-Country Automobile Trip

Author: Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

Illustrator: Wes Hargis

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Publisher: Millbrook Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Driving a car from San Francisco to New York is a tough trip even today, but in 1903 it was considered downright impossible. There were only 150 miles of paved roads in the whole United States. There were no maps, no repair shops, not even any gas stations. Dr. Horatio Jackson, his mechanic Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud piled themselves into a topless, windowless Winton automobile and set out to make history. This is the true story of how three men crossed the United States in a car in 1903.

Type of Reading: family reading, play reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 10

Interest Level: 5 to 10

Reading Level: 3.9

Age of Child: Read with and by a 5-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: I picked this book for my daughter because we have been talking about old cars. She enjoyed the story and kept saying how hard it must have been for them to travel like that. She said it made her thankful for her van with her DVD player! She laughed and said she would not want to travel that way. She thought it was great that someone else did, so she could read about it

Adult Reader Reaction: I enjoyed reading about the first trip and didn’t realize all they had gone through to get across. I, too, was glad it wasn’t me doing the traveling. The informational pages at the end to help you better study the trip. I wasn’t sure she would like it as it was a historical or factual story. I was pleasantly surprised when she took to reading it to me and turning the pages herself to see what was going to happen

Pros: This is a fun way to engage kids in learning history. The author provides information where kids can learn more if this piques their interest.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an excellent nonfiction picture book for elementary school and public libraries. I would buy this for any child. It has an excellent story and historical information.


Educational Themes: There are lots of things you can extract from this book for social studies and history: transportation, cross-country travel, geography and early 20th century industry. You can also talk about exploration and entrepreneurship. Information pages in the back also help you expand the learning.

Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. S/He borrowed the book from the local library.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, US history, cars, geography, 1900s

Date(s) Reviewed: July 2009

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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