by Pam Conrad. Illustrated by Darryl S. Zudeck. (HarperCollins, 1987. ISBN 9780064402064. Order Info.) Novel. 176 pages. Grades 5-8.
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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In Times Past
by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis
Integrating US History with Literature in Grades 3-8.
Enliven your US History curriculum!
Teach US History using great kids books.