Ernestine lives on a farm in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Her father is away in “the war” (identified in an author’s note as World War II), and her mother is expecting twins very soon. Ernestine’s days are filled with chores, and at night there is warm milk and comfort in Mama’s assurance that Daddy is looking up and seeing the same stars they are viewing. When Mama assigns her the task of bringing two large mason jars of milk to a neighbor family, she is ready for the task. As she makes the trek she hears scary sounds and imagines dangerous animals lying in wait. She reassures herself by shouting her mantra, “I’m five years old and a big girl,” and each time discovers only small, benign creatures instead of fierce beasts. She drops one milk jar, which rolls away, but arrives safely at the neighbor’s home with the remaining one. The lost milk jar is found, containing a delightful surprise, and a joyous breakfast ensues. The author employs lovely lilting language to describe the rural setting. Descriptors of the path’s vagaries are repeated as Ernestine makes her way, taking readers along with her through the “valley of doghobble and devil’s walking stick.” Sutton’s brightly hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations effortlessly convey the time period, setting, and events, and they express Ernestine’s every emotion.
Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place.(recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)