After the deaths of their parents, 14-year-old Pringle Rose and her 10-year-old brother, Gideon, head to Chicago, just in time for the great fire.
“I was Alice, tumbling headlong down a deep, dark rabbit hole,” Pringle says, upon hearing that her parents were killed in a carriage accident. Pringle and Gideon seek a new life in Chicago, hoping to learn to live without parents. But all does not go smoothly: She survives a train crash, a change in living arrangements, labor unrest, startling news about her parents’ “accident” and the great fire. Through it all, her intelligence and grit serve her well. The many apt allusions to Alice in Wonderland, Pringle’s cherished gift from her mother, elevate and deepen the story as, more than once, Pringle’s life is turned upside down, and things are often not what they seem to be. Pringle’s diary entries are a constant in her topsy-turvy life. Standard backmatter for the series includes historical notes, black-and-white reproductions of magazine illustrations and maps, and an author’s note. Bartoletti’s writing is always clear and at times elegant, as she creates an immensely likable young protagonist against a well-drawn historical backdrop.
This strong entry in the Dear America series makes history come alive through one plucky girl and her little brother. (Historical fiction. 8-14)