Books by Bonnie Geisert

PRAIRIE WINTER by Bonnie Geisert
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

Like Geisert's Prairie Summer and Lessons (2002, 2007), this sequel is set in 1950s South Dakota and is based on the author's childhood experiences. This installment follows sixth-grader Rachel Johnson during a winter of furious snowstorms. Although Rachel is sure school will be closed and she will have to spend the blustery days doing farm chores, her father surprises her by arranging for Rachel and her two older sisters to stay in a hotel room in town so they can continue to go to school and band practice. Their parents and younger siblings are isolated at their rural home with impassable roads and not even a telephone to keep them in contact with the girls, who seem to manage incredibly well on their own. This definitely has the feel of a romanticized reminiscence: Conflict and character development are slim, but the sense of place is palpable. Little House on the Prairie fans might enjoy this one, particularly on a chilly day with a cozy cup of cocoa to keep them company. (Historical fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
LESSONS by Bonnie Geisert
Released: April 1, 2005

This stand-alone sequel to Prairie Summer (2002), a shorter chapter book with illustrations, continues in a longer story that features ten-year-old Rachel, not only anxious about the new school year, but why her father appears sad every time he looks at her new baby brother. Rachel soon learns her parents' secret: Their first child, also a son, died before his christening and their Lutheran minister refused to give the baby a Christian burial. The girl comes to terms with her own sense of divine salvation and sparks events that lead to the family's healing and the reburial of her brother with a new funeral service. Based on a similar situation in Geisert's own family, the story also evokes a strong sense of place and time—1950s South Dakota—and a disappearing way of life. This isn't for every reader, but for children like Rachel, who care deeply about matters of the heart and soul. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
DESERT TOWN by Bonnie Geisert
Released: March 1, 2001

The Geiserts (Mountain Town, 2000, etc.) observe a fourth American small town through a year's changes. Lying along litter-strewn railroad tracks beneath barren-looking hills, the hamlet seems deserted under the glaring sun, but once that sun goes down, the residents, who have been hanging out in the air-conditioned store and elsewhere, congregate beneath the stars for gabfests, Saturday night dances, and, in season, a Christmas play. Sometimes a dust storm whirls by, or, more rarely, rain or snow; buildings are damaged, repaired, or added to as a baby arrives, a kiss leads to a proposal, and so on. The text is still a series of generalities, but less wooden than in previous volumes: "When the sun rises, the family laundry is already hanging on the line. By the time breakfast is over, the laundry will be dry." A key to less visible events at the end will prompt insufficiently attentive readers to go back over the delicately drawn and colored aerial views, cross sections and inside peeks. City and suburban children especially will benefit from the reminder that there is more to this country than malls and high-rises. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
RIVER TOWN by Bonnie Geisert
Released: April 1, 1999

The Geiserts continue their panoramic documentation of American small town life with this follow-up to Prairie Town (1998). With perspectives that sometimes hover high overhead, and other times just a bit above ground level, this offers sharp- eyed observers four seasons' worth of events in a hamlet which is never shown in its entirety. Over a set of wooden captions ("Halloween foretells the end of fall and the beginning of winter. It is a time to turn from work to play"), the illustrator creates a series of finely detailed landscapes, into which he introduces tiny changes, but also a disorienting disassociation of scale by zooming in, for example, on children, then zooming back out for scenes of a train wreck or spring flood. Readers may derive some passing pleasure in locating and poring over successive disasters (and determining their chronology: children skate on one part of the river, while a truck falls through rapidly cracking ice; in the illustration opposite that one, a framed picture of that truck going through the ice hangs in the cafe), but the underlying themes—the co-existence of past and present, the deliberate pace of life and of change—are more clearly evoked in the previous book. (Picture book. 7-9) Read full book review >
PRAIRIE TOWN by Bonnie Geisert
Released: March 1, 1998

This hawk's-eye view allows readers to circle over a small town during a year in which, at close inspection, apparently changeless streets and structures surrounded by flat horizons and "uninterrupted sky" yield up a host of stories, depicted in Lilliputian scale. Between one spring and the next, a carnival and a winter storm pass through, a house is trucked in whole, another is rebuilt after a fire, yards are cleaned, a wedding celebrated, a new tombstone placed in the cemetery, a jungle gym built on the playground behind the red brick school. Geisert uses ink and watercolor to achieve slightly finer detail than found in his etchings, in pictures that richly repay close inspection (but may not reward those seeking out his trademark pigs). However, the caption-like text can be eye-glazing and oddly phrased: "The town and its farm neighbors are economic and social partners. They provide goods and services for each other. The back yard is a favorite place where families extend their work and play." Still, the Geiserts observe and evoke the pace and rhythms of life in a prairie town with abundant affection. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
HAYSTACK by Bonnie Geisert
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A timely appreciation of the lowly haystack that, standing ``high, long and wide on the prairie'' once provided months of low- cost food and shelter for livestock on the farm. An economical narrative, running only a line of two of text per page, links the illustrator's instantly recognizable colored etchings. He brings viewers close to watch the barn-sized stack's construction, then pulls them back to observe the cattle clustering around it through warm and cold seasons. Its sides become concave, tunnels form and, at last, the pigs are herded in to finish it off. None of the haystackor, more precisely, all of itgoes to waste; the collapsed remnants, mostly manure, are spread over the field to fertilize the new crop. Big landscapes with tiny, precise details, plus the pigs that are a Geisert trademark will entice readers to linger over this eye-opener and to think about a rural staple usually only glimpsed from the window of a passing car. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >