A state of ley shock to match the Minnesota winter attacked Kristine and her brothers and sisters with the sudden death of their parents. The equally frigid emotions of The Relatives as they sat around bidding and bargaining for each child filled Kristine with terror enough to intervene. Managing to convince these people of her ability to care for the family, Kristine sets about proving it by budgeting, cooking, and seeing to everyone's education and religious training while each member of the family fulfills his own responsibilities. An angry storm brings a crisis situation in the form of a dwindling wood supply and although Uncle Tobias offers precious wood in exchange for Olaf's labor, they get help elsewhere and survive. Suspenseful throughout as each obstacle is dealt with and overcome, this is an excellent portrait of family unity. The black background of callous adult reaction is hard to accept, but becomes slightly more credible viewed in the context of a severe puritanical tradition. Period values at the turn of the century.