PRAIRIE SCHOOL

In his third entry in the I Can Read Chapter Book series, master storyteller Avi (Abigail Takes the WheeI, 1999, etc.) offers another transitional chapter book with a historical setting, this time the isolated prairie of Colorado in pioneer days. Nine-year-old Noah works alongside his parents and loves his outdoor-oriented life on the family’s homestead. He sees no reason for schooling, but his parents have other ideas. They invite Aunt Dora, who uses a wheelchair, to come from Maine for a long visit with the purpose of providing some “book learning” for her nephew. Noah digs in his heels and resists his aunt’s lessons, but being a determined and skilled teacher, she finds a way to connect with Noah by teaching him about the stars and native plants. Over the summer Noah learns to read and write and by fall is able to read aloud to his proud parents, who have limited reading skills. When Dora returns to her home in the East, she leaves a letter for Noah (presented in letter format), and on the book’s last page, Noah writes his own touching letter to his aunt, which the reader senses will be the start of a fruitful correspondence. Farnsworth’s glowing paintings capture the details of Noah’s pioneer life, showing the dim, cramped interior of their sod dugout and the endless expanse of the prairie. This quiet, thoughtful story will have a subtle appeal to children who may have resisted “book learning” themselves, and the matter-of-fact inclusion of a still-active young teacher in a wheelchair provides further depth to the theme of reading as a “frigate like a book to take us lands away.” (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-027664-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

PRAIRIE TRAIN

As the Great Northern chugs its way to St. Paul, past fields “stitched together / in brown and yellow patches, / like Grandma’s quilt spread over the hills,” a lone child in her Sunday Best gazes happily out the windows, takes a meal in the dining car (surreptitiously dropping sugar cubes into her wallet as mementos), makes friends with those seated around her when the train is temporarily halted by a snowdrift, then steps off at last, and into her grandmother’s arms. Thompson places the ride in the 1920s or ’30s, depicting passengers and elegant interiors with photorealistic sharpness, then backing off to show the big train steaming its way through towns and over rolling prairie. Despite occasional anxious moments, the generally buoyant tone of this individual odyssey will reassure prospective young travelers, and trainiacs will pore over the period details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-13433-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

UNITE OR DIE

HOW THIRTEEN STATES BECAME A NATION

Memorable for the contrast between the melodramatic title and Czekaj’s funny cartoon scenes of popeyed children putting on a low-budget stage play, this account of our Constitutional Convention should leave even less attentive readers with some idea of what the resultant document is all about. The curtain rises on players in state-shaped costumes running around shouting “Hooray! Freedom!” In subsequent scenes they fall to squabbling (“I know what’s best for me”) under the weak Articles of Confederation, recognize the need for change and gather (all but Rhode Island, that is) in sweltering Philadelphia for long, secret negotiations—nearly failing to reach consensus until Connecticut proposes the Great Compromise over the nature of the two legislative houses. “Who will be the first to sign? George Washington, of course!” A lively way to kick off discussions of how the Constitution works and why it’s still a living document, especially with readers too young to tackle Jean Fritz’s Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58089-189-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more