BLACK-EYED SUSAN by Jennifer Armstrong


Age Range: 8 - 12
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 A pioneer girl who loves her South Dakota home tries to deal with her mother's wish for the trees of her Ohio childhood in this middle-grade novel. As does Patricia MacLachlan in Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985), Armstrong (Steal Away, 1992, etc.) writes in a simple but quite literary style about an Easterner's struggle to adapt to the prairie as seen by a young girlSusiewho is anxious for her to make the transition happily. In this book, the mother is biological, but the difference lies in the tone; she is suffering real depression as a consequence of feeling trapped in her husband's sod home (a theme of apparently enduring interest for readers of all ages, found not only Eve Bunting's Dandelionssee review, belowbut also in Pam Conrad's 1985 Prairie Songs and Ole Rîlvaag's 1927 Giants of the Earth). Susie breaks through her mother's agoraphobia, with the help of an Icelandic family on the way to their homestead and a beautiful prairie sunrise. This happy ending seems a little unrealistic, but children will find it satisfying. The story has a strong sense of character, e.g., Susie's language as she narrates depicts a child in love with the literature her mother reads in their isolation. The emotional hardships of pioneer life are made clear in a loving family story. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-517-70107-3
Page count: 107pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1995


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