Pioneer Girl: Growing Up on the Prairie

by Andrea Warren

Grace McCance was only three years old in 1885, the year her father filed a homestead... read more

Grace McCance was only three years old in 1885, the year her father filed a homestead claim for 160 wide-open acres of Nebraska land. Years later, in the memoir she wrote as an adult, Grace could still recall her first glimpse of that prairie homestead: "Just two naked little soddies squatting on a bare, windswept ridge . . . Not another building in sight, not a tree, not an animal, nothing but grassy flats and hills." The story of Grace's childhood and young adulthood echoes that of many children whose famlies had the courage, determination, and desire to stake a claim for a place of their own in the breathtaking, unforgiving landscape of the Great Plains during the second half of the 19th century. Using Grace's life story as the centerpiece for her narrative and drawing on additional research, Andrea Warren chronicles what life was like for those early settlers, who faced isolation, endless hard work, and the ravages of nature as they struggled to build farms, raise families, and forge communities among distant neighbors spread out across the land. As Warren relates, the challenges were often overwhelming and there were many who eventually had to give up their dreams. For Grace McCance, these challenges were never too great to diminish her love for the land. This real-life story of a pioneer girl, which is illustrated with archival black-and-white photographs as well as pictures from Grace McCance's family, has great appeal as a book for children to read independently in addition to its obvious merit for classroom use. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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