Prairie Songs

by Pam Conrad. Illustrated by Darryl S. Zudeck. Novel. 176 pages. Grades 5-8.
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This book is currently (November 2012) out of print, but still widely available used and through libraries.

We like Pam Conrad's Prairie Songs because it shows that, while many settlers adapted to the hardships and beauty of the prairie, some did not. Louisa, like the more familiar Laura Ingalls loves Nebraska and so does her family.

But the situation is different for a young doctor who builds a sod house and brings his Philadelphia bride, Emmeline to live there. Emmeline is overwhelmed by the hardships of prairie life. Eventually, it is too much and the woman is driven to madness.

The setting is the Nebraska prairie and the characters are extremely well done as is the portrayal of the time and place. Emmeline is one of the few characters we've found in children's fiction who just couldn't survive in that vast and harsh environment.




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    Grades PreK - 3
    Building Our House by Jonathan Bean. Picture Book. 48 pages.
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    This is an affectionate picture book portrayal of a family building their own home from scratch. Everyone helps over the course of a year and a half while they live on site and the small family grows from two to three children. There are lots of timber frame building details while the focus stays on the warm and loving family creating a home together. A beautiful example of the emotional and material power of teamwork. This book won the Boston Globe Horn Book Picture Book Award for 2013.



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