Peter (12) has heard a lot about steam engines, and he even saw one thrashing wheat at a neighbor's last year, but now the big steam tractor is coming to his farm. He and his six-year-old sister, Anna, get to stay home from school, but have to work hard--Anna makes 200 rolls a day for the hungry thrashers, while Peter drives the water wagon to keep the big engine supplied. Best, he gets to help Mr. Parker, the engineer, keep the engine running--and Mr. Parker even gives Peter his old engineering books as a parting gift. This window on the past depicts farm life in North Dakota just after the turn of the century, at the dawn of modern farm mechanization, with painstaking verisimilitude. The meticulous pen drawings of the tractor, separator, and thrashers are large, handsome, and full of engrossing detail. As narrated by Peter, the story is chiefly a vehicle for conveying a sense of time and place--food, people, tasks; still, here, too, the authentic detail holds interest. Some historical notes would have helped--15 storytellers are credited, but who were they? How much of the story is fact? And, though a carefully labeled drawing of the tractor is included, there are few technical details. All in all, however, an attractive book that does what it sets out to do.