Cover image for Good times on Grandfather Mountain
Good times on Grandfather Mountain
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, c1992.

Physical Description:
p. cm.
Target Audience:
Mountain man Washburn insists on looking on the bright side of things, even as disaster after disaster befalls him.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC: N: 5.2 L880: 2

Accelerated Reader Grades 5-8 4 0.5 Quiz 9986 English fiction.
Lexile Measure:
Added Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number

On Order



Old Washburn always looks on the bright side of life. He is perfectly happy, sitting on the porch of his farm on Grandfather Mountain whittling. I can whittle my way out of any trouble, he says. This original folk story illustrated with vigorous rustic paintings offers a true tall-tale hero whose philosophic calm no catastrophe can shake. Full-color illustrations.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-- Old Washburn, sanguine to the extreme, always looks on the bright side. When his cow runs away, he cheerfully turns the milk pail into a drum. When the pig escapes, he good-naturedly turns the fencepost into drumsticks. When a storm blows his cabin down, he uses the wood to whittle a fiddle. His neighbors are drawn by his music and while some of them dance, others help him to rebuild. Finally, his cow, his pig, and the other farm animals hear Old Washburn's music and head for home. Martin has written a pleasantly optimistic story without the burden of didacticism. Nicely told in lilting language, it is a treat to read aloud. Watercolors in a pleasing palette humorously depict Washburn's farm as a laissez-faire kind of place. The old man himself has his long gray hair caught back in a rainbow-colored ribbon. His cow, Blanche Wisconsin, is comically shown with a rainbow floating in one ear and out the other as she listens to the music. A variety of interesting perspectives and droll closeups make this an excellent choice for group sharing--along with a few choruses of ``Old MacDonald Had a Farm.'' --Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT- (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Old Washburn is a combination of Pollyanna and Job in this rustic narrative, which exudes a singular down-home style and flavor. Claiming that he can ``whittle my way out of any trouble,'' the bearded craftsman lives to prove it as one by one his animals--led by a bovine beauty named Blanche Wisconsin--all abandon him; his crops fall prey to locusts and raccoons. Remaining optimistic would be difficult for some, but Old Washburn decides to make corncob whistles out of the crop remnants. Finally alone and homeless on his mountain, the old-timer reflects that, with no chores to tend to, ``I'll whittle and glue and make myself a fancy fiddle.'' The sweet music produced entices not only his neighbors (who set about helping their friend), but even Blanche and her errant animal companions. Employing unusual perspectives and extreme closeups to impressive effect, Gaber's watercolors imbue this cautionary country tale with a folksy flavor that suggests good times indeed. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

This robust original story celebrates music and life in the plain, cadenced language of an old folk tale. Old Washburn, who never worries or complains, can whittle his way out of any trouble. Despite a series of disasters, the old man's good-natured optimism is never dented. The large close-up pictures seem barely able to contain themselves on the page, and they promise a foot-stomping, tub-thumping good time. From HORN BOOK 1992, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Old Washburn is a whittler and an eternal optimist. When his cow (``Blanche Wisconsin'') wanders off, he remarks that ``her milk never did make good cheese'' and fashions a drum from his milk bucket; the departure of his pig and chickens and the raccoons' depradations in his cornfield elicit equally cheerful reactions. Even when the wind blows down his cabin, Washburn sleeps happily beneath the stars and then whittles a fiddle from the pieces. The fiddle music draws his neighbors, who dance, join in on the rollicking tunes, and pitch in to rebuild his house; the animals, too, are lured back by the music. Martin's wry, nicely cadenced narration gives her tale a hearty folk-tale flavor. In her skillful watercolor art, Gaber (The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies, 1990) varies closeups that draw the reader right into the action with novel perspectives and, in the joyous dance scene, a sly reference to Matisse's compositions of circling figures. Entertaining, original, and beautifully produced. (Picture book. 4-8)

Booklist Review

Ages 3-6. Old Washburn believes he can whittle his way out of any trouble, and the rousing story and pictures in this mountain yarn prove him right. It's all in what you make of things. When the cow jumps the fence, Washburn is philosophical, and the milk bucket becomes a drum. When the chickens leave, he can understand their getting tired of sitting on eggs all day. The grasshoppers eat his beans, and he whittles the beanpoles into tub thumpers. The raccoons eat the corn, and he makes corncobs into whistles. When a fierce mountain storm blows his cabin down, he whittles and glues a fancy fiddle. His neighbors hear the music and come running to the party, and they build him a new house. The words have a dancing rhythm and droll wit, and the bright watercolor pictures veer wildly in perspective, from the old man in his yard to a double-spread close-up of the cow jumping the fence, to a Brueghel-like scene of everyone dancing and carpentering together. Best of all are the changing views of gray-bearded, pony-tailed Washburn, playing music and whittling a world. He's so good he can make a party out of a blown-down cabin. (Reviewed Feb. 1, 1992)0531059774Hazel Rochman