Sunday, January 9, 2011

Little Blog on the Prairie

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Little Blog on the Prairie
Bloomsbury see St. Martins 2010 276p 16.99
978-1-59990-286-9 ms/hs Realistic Fiction VG-BN
When Genevieve’s family seeks a closeness that it has lost by booking a vacation on an authentic prairie adventure, the family’s endurance is sorely tested. The climactic fire brings the prairie vacationers together and teaches them the lesson of the importance of community.
In her second book, Cathleen Davitt Bell has given us a unique look at life in 1890, but her characters live in the year 2010. When life has become humdrum for Genevieve’s family, her mother books them into a kind of “Back to the Past” adventure in Wyoming where she will be able to repeat life as she knew it as a child while watching “Little House on the Prairie.” Unbeknownst to her family, Genevieve has sneaked her brand new cell phone to the farm and is texting her friends at home regularly. One by one, new subscribers tap into the blog, and the adventures in Wyoming develop a cult following. The family that runs the farm is authentic, the 3 families that are visiting for the summer are carefully characterized to add spice to the plot, and the adventures which include milking cows, fishing, tree chopping, farming and living the hardships of prairie life are woven into the plot creatively! Things start to fall apart when Genevieve’s cell phone runs out of battery, and she discovers arch nemesis Nora hiding out in a shack, checking E-mail and drinking diet coke. The conflict is exacerbated by Nora’s resentment that, stuck on the prairie with her parents, she has been unable to have a normal life. She rubs Genevieve the wrong way, and the resulting rivalry for handsome camper Caleb threatens the survival of all involved. When the farms’ owners discover the existence of the cell phone, the summer comes to a halt for Genevieve’s family as all must decide between going back to 2010 or staying to complete their “vacation.” If the author had continued in this vein, she would have strengthened her ending. Instead, she brings a news anchor aboard, and the book ends with Nora’s rise to fame as a reality TV show star in a finish that is not as good as the rest of the book! However, the comedy, the plot and the characters are enough to make this book a good read, and the scenes when the farm’s teenagers lament the loss of so many comforts of home are so beautifully written that young readers will be entertained thoroughly.

For middle and high school readers, Little Blog on the Prairie is a wonderful choice! The story line, the language and the relationships are genuine and PG-13. Squaresky(2), Martha
girl reluctantly experiences farm life in 1890

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