Things were very different for children growing up on farms in America’s heartland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries than they are today.
Basing her description on diaries and memoirs from people who experienced it, the author makes and repeats this point in chapters covering daily life, school, farm work and children's play, each beginning with a summary of the experience of a specific child or family, from Rose Wilder Lane in Missouri to the Ise family in Kansas. Quotations appear sparingly. Plodding exposition that tells what children did rather than showing them doing it has the effect of distancing readers even further from that experience than they already are. There are occasional period photographs, but the format is small and the pictures smaller; it is hard to make out faces and details. The author has previously explored this subject in a book for adults (Childhood on the Farm, 2005). Middle-school readers who persist with this outing will certainly learn something new, but they are unlikely to come away with any sense of how it felt to live such a life.A pedestrian package that has all the trappings and appeal of a history textbook; buy another copy of Andrea Warren’s Pioneer Girl (1998) instead. (endnotes, “questions worth considering,” vocabulary list) (Nonfiction. 12-16)