MY FACE TO THE WIND by Jim Murphy

MY FACE TO THE WIND

The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Dear America series has a system, and it often works: a diary format, historical pictures at the back, often with commentary, recipes, or other specifics, and some referents to tie the fictional events to time and place. Murphy, usually a wonderful writer (Pick and Shovel Poet, 2000, etc.) who has written other titles in this series, produces a workmanlike diary without much spirit or flair but with a truly compelling story. Sarah Jane is only 14 when her schoolteacher father succumbs to diphtheria; to keep from being sent to an orphanage, she courageously offers herself as the schoolteacher for the prairie town of Broken Bow. The boarding house where she lives has a pinched and suspicious woman running it and the sod house given over for schooling is a wreck, but Sarah Jane, holding to her own native gumption and her father’s memory, takes it on. Her students vary wildly in age and ability, and one set of siblings only speaks German. In a climactic entry, she describes roping the children together in a line so they could make their way back to town in a blinding snowstorm after the soddy’s roof falls in. A fictional epilogue wraps up Sarah Jane’s life as though it were true, one of the more troubling requirements of the series. Murphy’s historical notes at the back fill out the details of early American education and prairie life. His fiction allows the reader to learn attitudes and hardships in the struggle for survival on the prairie through the mind of a participant. (photos, recipe, acknowledgements) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-43810-7
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001




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