CABIN IN THE SNOW

VOL. II, PRAIRIE SKIES

The Keller family, a free-soil Kansas family recently transplanted from Massachusetts, faces the struggle of their first winter in Hopkinson’s second installment in the Prairie Skies trilogy that began with Pioneer Summer (p. 570). Mr. Keller and his son Charlie leave for a supply trip to Lawrence that ends up being anything but routine. They hear of the murder of a free-soil man and, on their trip home, end up in the middle of an argument between the 15 pro-slavery men and some free-soil farmers. Fearing that the town of Lawrence might be at risk, Mr. Keller agrees to join the men. Nine-year-old Charlie is left with the responsibility of driving the oxen team home and becoming the man of the family in his father’s absence. With his mother about to give birth, his sisters to care for, and the worries about dwindling food supplies in the winter ahead, Charlie’s plate is full. There is no time for his characteristic daydreaming and birdwatching. When Charlie runs into Mr. Morgan and his daughter Flory again, the Keller family is torn. On one hand, the Morgans are in need of a safe place to stay and the children remember them fondly from their time together on the steamboat. On the other hand, the Morgans, with their pro-slavery ideas, stand for everything the Kellers are opposed to. When Mama gives birth early, the Kellers have little choice but to trust and accept help from Flory and her father. The family must rely on each other, and the help of others, to make it through a terrible blizzard without Papa. Once again, Hopkinson tells a good story, steeped in rich history and research, and leaves her young readers satisfied, yet ready to know more, promised in the forthcoming Our Kansas Home. (author’s note, recipe, song lyrics) (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84351-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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