Anna's Blizzard by Alison Hart depicts the struggles faced with living on the prairie during a harsh winter. The main character, Anna, loves the prairie and would rather tend to her sheep than to her arithmetic and reading lessons. Anna uses her knowledge of living on the prairie and tending to her sheep and horse to lead the children of the one-room school to safety during a life-threatening blizzard. Hart weaves the theme of nature versus man throughout this historical fiction book. For example, a blinding snow storm traps the children in the school, forcing them to eat crumbs left over from lunch, boil snow for water, and huddle together for warmth. Their hopes of making it through the night vanish when the roof caves in due to the weight of the heavy snow. Despite all physical obstacles the blizzard brought, Anna uses her courage to bring the children to safety. 2005, Peachtree Publishers, 141 pp., Ages young adult.
Anna's Blizzard is an inspiring story about a young girl braving the elements to survive the Schoolchildren's Blizzard of 1888. Anna is a pioneer girl through and through. She loves helping on her family's farm, being outdoors, and riding her pony, Top Hat. So when she has to go to school, she dreads it. Her lessons are difficult and the other children her age are unkind. But one particularly long day at school, Anna becomes a hero when a spring blizzard strikes. She finds an inner strength within herself as she defends her classmates from a snake seeking shelter from the storm, cares for a small classmate who gets chilled, and helps entertain and calm her friends and East Coast teacher, who has never seen a fierce blizzard. As the storm rages outside, Anna leads her friends in games as they huddle around the stove. But when the wind rips the roof off the schoolhouse, the battle for survival begins. Anna knows they must get to safety. She gathers everyone together, ties them with rope, and trusts Top Hat to lead them all to a nearby fence line, which leads to a farm. Blinded by the snow and wind, trusting her horse, and barely able to see her friends, Anna leads the way on a blinding trek toward the farm. But will they make it in time or freeze on the prairie? Anna's Blizzard is a wonderful story about a young girl's courage in facing the worst blizzard to ever hit the middle United States. Anna's survival skills are excellent, and the author seems to hint that there is more than one way to be "properly" educated for life on a Nebraska prairie. A well-researched story, the book includes a reference section that gives facts about the terrible storm and life on the Nebraskaprairie during the 1880s. Anna's Blizzard is a story both young and old are sure to enjoy. 2005, Peachtree Publishing, Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Anna Vail, 12, lives in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie in 1888. She enjoys farm chores and riding her beloved pony, Top Hat, but feels clumsy and out of place at school. When an unexpected blizzard traps her class in their one-room schoolhouse, it's up to Anna and Top Hat to lead everyone to safety. But will they make it through the blinding snow before they freeze to death? Anna is a strong, appealing heroine, and the story is suspenseful. A short afterword with black-and-white illustrations tells more about the 1888 "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" on which the story is based and discusses details of life on the Nebraska prairie. Fans of the "American Girls" series (Pleasant Co) or Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books (HarperCollins) will also enjoy Anna's Blizzard.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In 1888, people suffered one of the worst winters in U.S. history. New York City had its "Great Blizzard" and the high plains were struck by a sudden, life-threatening blizzard in January. Called the "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" because it caused the deaths of many children who were trapped away from home, Hart tells how a group of Nebraska school children were saved thanks to the actions of 11-year-old Anna Vail. A poor student, she's more comfortable herding sheep and working around the homestead than holding a pencil or reading. She devises a plan to lead the children from the destroyed school, into the icy blinding whiteout and deepening snow. After the dangerous trip, they find a soddy in which to shelter. Perhaps Anna and some of the other characters are too good, and one, too prissy, but readers should identify with Anna and admire her spunk. In addition, readers will learn about the hardships of life on the treeless plains. "More about life on the Prairie in the 1880s" adds information. Could work as a read-aloud, too. (Historical fiction. 8-10)