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THE PRAIRIE THIEF by Melissa Wiley

THE PRAIRIE THIEF

By Melissa Wiley

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4424-4056-2
Publisher: McElderry

How can Louisa save her Pa after he’s been accused of thievery, a crime punishable on the prairie by hanging, without breaking the promise she made to another? Even if she tells the truth, who will believe her?

Louisa rides a pronghorn antelope across the prairie and sleeps with wolves overnight, all so she can be in town the morning of Pa’s trial. Louisa never would have thought such things possible, but then she had never met a brownie before. (Humans were not the only immigrants from the Auld Country.) Making Louisa’s travel arrangements is the least the brownie can do for her. After all, he is the one guilty of pilfering items from local homesteads, only according to his reasoning, the items are payment for his services. Fans of the Little House books will recognize the setting and enjoy the fantastic twist for which the author provides an entirely plausible back story. Youngsters will also understand Louisa’s dilemma: She empathizes with the brownie, especially after learning he has a connection to her deceased mother, but it is imperative that she prove her Pa’s innocence. Stylized black-and-white illustrations capture key moments and add to the warm tone. Some of the characters are clichéd, but the comedic, unexpected, satisfying conclusion hits just the right note.

A pleasing folkloric/historical blend. (Fantasy. 8-12)