THE CELLAR by Ellen Howard
Kirkus Star


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Four brief chapters outline a tingle troublesome day from the point of view of the middle daughter in the midwestern family that has appeared in several books (Edith, Herself, 1987), skillfully capturing the dynamics of Faith's position when she was the youngest, with a motherly older sister (Alena) and two brothers. Fritz, nearest in age, especially likes to tease Faith; in the morning, his taunts have left her at the top of the cellar door, afraid to slide down; later, getting the cows, she's left behind again. But when Father requests apples as a bedtime treat, Faith gets them by herself, without revealing her trepidation, even after Fritz slams the heavy outside cellar door so that she drops the kerosene lamp and is left in the dark to feel her way out. Fritz is genuinely sorry, while Faith's hard day is retrieved by her small triumph of serf-reliance. The simple events here are universally childlike, exquisitely honed to reveal each character with a few telling details and enriched with glimpses of 19th-century farm life--especially the ample supplies in the capacious cellar, as wholesome and sustaining as the family itself. A beautifully crafted story. Ten appealing full-page b&w illustrations, not seen in final form.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1992
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Atheneum