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AS FAR AS I CAN SEE by Kate McMullan


Vol. I, Meg’s Prairie Diary


Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-42517-4
Publisher: Scholastic

Meg Wells’s diary, the newest addition to the popular My America series, tells the story of two-and-a-half months in a St. Louis girl’s life in 1856. Meg and her little brother, Preston, live in a loving family with their parents and little sister, Grace. Life is filled with the excitement of the big city: steamboats, ice cream parlors, hoopskirts, and fancy hotels. But all is not idyllic. The family lives with ghost of the 1849 cholera epidemic, when their older siblings lost their lives. Then there is the growing tension about the role of slavery in Kansas, which is soon to become a state. If that isn’t enough, another outbreak of cholera has hit the family. Once Grace and Mrs. Wells become ill, their distraught mother trundles Meg and Preston off to what she hopes will be the safety of Kansas, where their Aunt Margaret lives. The story flows better than many epistolary novels. Meg’s voice does not stray from that of a well-educated, somewhat prim nine-year-old. Her horror and fear are appropriately innocent when she accidentally witnesses a slave auction. Meg and Preston have many adventures: the steamship runs into a sandbar and lists dangerously; the passengers rush to each meal, causing a human stampede; and they actually become part of the Underground Railroad. Large font, short passages, and interesting facts and details are packed into this earnest adventure for readers just ready for chapter books. A good companion to Deborah Hopkinson’s Pioneer Summer (p. 570). (historical note) (Fiction. 7-10)