Littlejim Houston is nearly 14 and loves his life in rural Appalachia in 1920, but he dreams of being more than a farmer and logger. He'd like to go the academy and then to college; he wants to become a teacher or maybe even an aviator. Money is tight, for the bottom has fallen out of the lumber market, and there's work to be done if they are to keep their farm. When Mama falls seriously ill, Papa needs money to take her to the Statesville hospital, and sells the mineral rights to his property to a couple of unsavory mineral speculators. The farm is left to Littlejim while his parents are gone. With Myron, a law student from Philadelphia who is staying with the Houstons for the summer, Littlejim soon discovers the magnitude of his father's blunder; the miners clear the family's only virgin stand of timber, claiming the right to ""prepare"" the land. This terrible loss results in Papa's seeking--and obtaining--justice from outside the community; he also begins to understand the value of Littlejim's fine mind and openly pledges his support for his boy's education. It's a heartwarming story of family ties and friendship, set in an earlier era and another culture. Fans of the previous books (Littlejim's Gift, 1994, etc.) will not be disappointed.