When Prairie’s parents move them to New York (from North Carolina) to take over Prairie’s grandparents’ farmstead, Prairie isn’t thrilled – especially when her Grammy, who lives with them, announces that she’s moving back to NC. And things don’t improve immediately, either. Prairie also has to go to public school for the first time in her life and the kids there tease her about her name (and because she’s new). The only thing Prairie has to look forward to are her chickens (she convinces her folks to let her raise chickens, so she can sell eggs at the farmers’ market alongside them – they sell artistic birdhouses and quilts as they work on getting the farm up and running). Then, Prairie makes a friend. Ivy is in her class at school and they have a lot of similar interests, and once they become friends they spend all of their time together. Ivy has problems of her own, though. Ivy’s mother isn’t the best of moms to her, and once she remarries, she’s even less available to Ivy. Prairie and her parents hatch a plan that allows Ivy to live with them (at least for the rest of the school year) and the girls are thrilled. Well, mostly. It turns out that they don’t have everything in common and being almost like sisters means that sometimes you fight.
This junior fiction novel explores some serious issues without getting too gritty or depressing (it’s told from Prairie’s point of view and she has a strong family and support network – not so for Ivy). Prairie is a very practical, observant girl, whose heart is in the right place. She’s sensitive (most of the time) to people’s feelings, and she’s a good listener/communicator. Great character. This wraps up very neatly, which some may find unrealistic, but others will find satisfying. Readalikes: So B. It, Ida B, Because of Winn Dixie (and others with strong girl characters/children who are dealing with more adult problems).
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Recommended for Grades 4-8
Reviewed by Karin Thogersen, YA Librarian