The profound pleasure of living on a farm, in constant contact with the natural world, pervades this story of a Vermont farm family whose luck turns, then turns again. Unlike her older brother, Lucien, who wants to be a writer, Iris, 13, can't imagine being anything but a farmer. After a year that begins with her grandfather's death and culminates in double disaster when the barn burns down and her father, Hazen, loses a leg cutting lumber for the new barn, Iris is ready to soldier on, but Hazen isn't; he angrily announces that he's calling it quits and puts the machinery and livestock up for auction. Kinsey-Warnock (The Summer of Stanley, p. 723, etc.) draws characters and conflicts simply and strongly, balancing a Pollyanna-ish subplot about a classmate who lives in a house made of hay bales with a hilarious comeuppance of bossy Aunt Lurdine; also figuring in the story are Iris's inner struggle when she learns that a cousin caused the barn fire and her sharp, almost fierce appreciation for the land and its gifts. Hazen conquers his depression, and Sturgis, his businessman brother-in-law who is a farmer at heart, comes in as co-owner to save the farm. The Christmas scene that caps this is almost overkill, but there's plenty of appeal in this sometimes surprising story.