PRAIRIE FRIENDS by Nancy Smiler Levinson


Age Range: 5 - 8
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Betsy and her family live on the Nebraska prairie in this idyllic story of friendship. She is lonely because there are no girls her age to play with. When her father tells her about a new family, she hopes for a new friend. When she meets Mr. Fitzroy, her hopes are raised to hear he has a daughter, Emmeline, just about Betsy’s age. Betsy makes Emmeline a cornhusk doll, but is disappointed by her unenthusiastic response to the gift. Turns out that Emmeline is from St. Paul, and misses her porcelain dolls and all the toys she had to sell to move to Nebraska. The two girls get lost while berry-picking, and have to rely on Betsy’s understanding of the prairie, including her knowledge that sandhill cranes will lead them to the creek near home. The adventure solidifies their friendship in an all’s-well-that-ends-well conclusion. Much is left from the text: exactly when does this story take place? Why do they live so far from neighbors? What are the families doing in Nebraska? How do the families react to the girls’ disappearance? An author’s note fills in some of the blanks, but the information seems incomplete. Levinson mentions the differences between dugouts and soddies, but the illustrations and story have little to do with housing. No mention is made of the sandhill cranes, though most young readers will know little of their habits. For a more poignant and informative historical fiction about prairie life, friendship, and loneliness, refer to Eve Bunting’s Dandelions. (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-028001-8
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2003


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