Wagon Wheels by Barbara Bremer is a Reading Rainbow book that focuses on the true story of the Muldie Family. According to the “Behind the Story” page included at the end of the book, “In 1878, Ed Muldie and his family left Kentucky to go to Kansas. They had heard about the Homestead Act, which promised free land to anyone who was willing to settle the West. The Muldies were among the thousands of black pioneers who left the South after the Civil War.”
Much of the story takes place in the town of Nicodemus, a black community named after a famous enslaved man who eventually purchased his freedom. What I love about this book is the love and hope that people portrayed in this story had. Although the Muldies and the other black families did not have much, they had what mattered: family, community, and the freedom to decide their future.
I also liked how this story included a perception adjustment about the Osage Indians, but I was also saddened by the tough choice Ed Muldie had to make when he wanted to look for land towards the end of the story.
Before reading this book, I did not know about the town of Nicodemus. After reading this book, I wanted to learn more. I learned that Nicodemus is considered a national historical site, and according to the National Park Service, “This living community is the only remaining all Black town west of the Mississippi River that was settled in the 1800s on the western plains by former slaves.”
Good stories make you want to learn more. This story made me seek out more information about Nicodemus. The story of the Muldie family and the town of Nicodemus is just one small slice of black history, but it is a slice of history worth knowing.
To learn more about Nicodemus, click here.
|Scholastic Book Wizard||Grades 2-4|
|Guided Reading Level||K|
|Accelerated Reader Level||2.6|