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Children's Literature Reviews
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Calling me home
by Patricia Hermes.
New York : Avon Book, 1998.
140 p. ; 22 cm.


Twelve-year-old Abbie struggles to accept her father's desire to make a new home for his family on the Nebraska prairies of the late 1850s.

Best Books:

Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1999 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

Reading Measurement Programs:

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 640

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 7
Title Point Value 9
Lexile Measure 640


Kay Weisman (Booklist, January 1 & 15, 1999 (Vol. 95, No. 9 & 10))
In the late 1850s, Abbie Chrisman and her family have moved from St. Joseph, Missouri, to homestead on the prairies of eastern Nebraska. Although Abbie loves the sights and sounds all around her, she hates their sod home; sadly, Papa has decided to postpone house building until he has paid for their land. Then a cholera epidemic strikes the family, and Abbie fears that she may have unwittingly contributed to her younger brother's death. Hermes' strength is her attention to period and setting details. Unfortunately, the novel's climax depends on Abbie's feelings of guilt, and Papa's once-upon-a-time story that clears up this misunderstanding will leave many modern readers feeling manipulated. An additional purchase for collections with high demand for this genre. Category: Middle Readers. 1998, Avon, $15. Gr. 4-7.

Sue Reichard (Children's Literature)
Life on the Nebraska Prairie is very hard in the year 1886. For one and a half years, Abbie and her family have lived in a one-room, sod house. Cramped and without privacy, Abbie longs for a normal home, a piano, and a chance to go to school. Abbie's dreams turn to dust when her brothers are stricken with cholera and die. Abbie also comes down with the disease but survives and must overcome her feelings of guilt and unhapiness with life on the prairie. The story of human struggles and hope will be an inspiration to readers. 1998, Avon/Camelot, $15.00. Ages 9 to 12.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1998)
The death of a brother transforms a preteen's discontent into guilt in this weakly constructed drama, set on the Nebraska prairie in the 1850s, just before the Homestead Act. A year and a half after moving from Missouri, Abbie and her family live in a one-room sod house, while her father works and stays in town, 15 miles away, trying to raise money so they can buy the land they've claimed. After a rare, leisurely visit to town, Abbie arrives home to find both of her brothers stricken with cholera; she also comes down with the disease, and her recovery is slowed by the twin convictions that she's responsible for the baby brother's death, and that her parents hate her. Hermes (When Snow Lay Soft on the Mountain, 1996, etc.) expresses decidedly antique attitudes toward native people, described as "Indians" who are wild and mischievous; one of them, in response to Abbie's father's "How, do," actually says "How." She also lets most of the air out of her story by building toward a climax, involving both an impending auction and a public recitation, then leaving the actual scene out. Next to Jennifer Armstrong's Black-Eyed Susan (1995) or Para Conrad's wrenching Prairie Song (1987), the characters and setting here are only dimly realized, and readers will be let down by the anticlimactic ending. 1998, Camelot/Avon, $14.00. © 1998 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Among the spate of middle-grade fiction centering on the daughters of 19th-century American homesteaders, Hermes's (Mama, Let's Dance; You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye) graceful if predictable novel stands a cut above. At its heart is the question of what does--and what should--constitute "home" for Abbie. Her family has moved from a town where they lived in a proper house with a piano and where the children attended school. But out on the Nebraska prairie, no school yet exists and the family inhabits what Abbie describes as a "gopher hole"--a sod house "made out of the earth, with a ceiling that leaked and dropped dirt and dust into our dinner." Though she loves the freedom that the prairie gives her, she misses the comforts of town life. But her longing for town pales next to her baby brother's death from cholera; Abbie, believing it took her too long to fetch the doctor, blames herself. All this is familiar territory, but Hermes takes a fresh path with a feminist angle (Abbie feels it unfair that her father is acquiring land chiefly to pass it on to his sons--women could not own land in the 1850s) and with other interesting historical details, mostly about various ruses adopted by land-hungry settlers--including women--in order to circumvent the homestead laws. A solid story, neatly told. Ages 8-12. (Dec.)


Avon Camelot


Frontier and pioneer life--Nebraska--Fiction.
Fathers and daughters--Fiction.
Christian life--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.H4317 Cal 1998
98007909 [Fic]
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