Doctor Like Papa

Doctor Like Papa

by Natalie Kinsey-warnock, James Bernardin

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Sometimes dreams come true. . . .

All Margaret wants is a sister, a dog, and, most important of all, her mama's permission to study medicine so she can be a doctor like her papa.

"Doctoring's no kind of life for a woman," Mama says. Margaret's papa is the only doctor in the whole Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and he faces countless

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Sometimes dreams come true. . . .

All Margaret wants is a sister, a dog, and, most important of all, her mama's permission to study medicine so she can be a doctor like her papa.

"Doctoring's no kind of life for a woman," Mama says. Margaret's papa is the only doctor in the whole Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and he faces countless perils every day.

Still, Margaret holds tight to her dreams . . . until a terrible virus breaks out, threatening her plans, her community, and, worst of all, her family. Suddenly it's up to Margaret to make the right choice.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Margaret makes three wishes on the first star. She longs for a dog, a little sister, and to study medicine so she can become a doctor, just like her father. Her father is the only doctor for miles in rural Vermont. He works long hours and is often paid in chickens or fresh-baked bread. Even though it is 1918, Margaret's mother believes women have no business in medicine. When Margaret's gentle Uncle Owen is reported missing in action in France, focus shifts to news overseas. Margaret's mother relents and allows Margaret to make rounds with her father. Uncle Owen comes home, minus an arm, silent and withdrawn. Then influenza strikes. Papa is gone for days. Margaret and her little brother are sent to live with a relative in the mountains. On the way, they discover a half-dead dog and a child in a house with a sick mother. Margaret tries to help the woman, but she dies. She takes the dog and the little girl back home. Kinsey-Warnock's latest offering is evocative and beautiful like all of her novels, but the ending strains to tie up all loose ends. The slender length and soft pencil drawings suggest the book is for chapter book readers, but the language and subject matter are more suited for a slightly older audience. 2002, HarperCollins,
— Candice Ransom
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A fine beginning chapter book. Margaret is the strong, smart daughter of a Vermont family doctor in 1918. She accompanies her father on his rounds as he visits neighbors and is paid for his services in chickens and apples. The 11-year-old loves to help her Papa, and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Unfortunately, Mama does not agree that this is an attainable goal for a girl, and so discourages her daughter. The family is also affected by World War I when Uncle Owen is called into service. Margaret and her younger brother enjoy life as children, even with the news of the world and the hardships of life going on around them. The influenza epidemic, which hits their community, also brings drama to this tale. Good suspense and believable characters are the hallmarks of this short but well-written story. A good, easy choice for any collection.-JoAnn Jonas, Chula Vista Public Library, San Diego, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a brief episode exploring the theme of challenging gender roles that is loosely based on local history, the devastating flu epidemic of 1918 tests a Vermont child's resolution to become a country doctor like her father. Resisting her mother's insistence that it's no job for a woman, Margaret cajoles her father at last into allowing her to accompany him on house calls. She proves an able assistant-but needs all her skills and stomach later that winter when, on the way to a remote relative's with her little brother, she comes upon a farmhouse with a nearly dead dog outside, and inside only a small child shivering among the bodies of her stricken family. In a quick final chapter, Margaret grows up to achieve her heart's desire, and even to see her own little daughter show early signs of continuing the family profession. Kinsey-Warnock (Lumber Camp Library, below, etc.) folds in a subplot involving a beloved uncle who comes back from the war deeply depressed and minus an arm, slips in a snippet about Elizabeth Blackwell for further role-modeling, and closes with a historical note. Young readers will be engrossed, following this plucky but vulnerable child through a time of hardship and widespread tragedy. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.16(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Some evenings, after supper, all of the family-Papa, Mama, Uncle Owen, Margaret, and Colin-sit on the porch and listen to the tree frogs trilling into the soft spring air and breathe in the smell of apple blossoms that have justcome into bloom. Margaret leans against Uncle Owen and watches for the first star to wink outof the twilight. Then she squeezes her eyes shutand makes three wishes: one, for a sister; two, for a dog; and three, that Mama will change hermind about Margaret studying medicine. The thirdwish is the hardest. Margaret's never known Mama to change her mind about anything. "She's as stubborn as the day is long," Papa says fondly, but then he says the same thing about Margaret.

Sometimes, on those soft spring evenings, if Papa isn't too tired from his doctoring rounds, he'll take Mama's hand and they'll dance under the trees, and Papa sings softly, "I'll Be with you in Apple Blossom Time." On nights like this, it seems to Margaret that there is nothing in the whole wide world that can touch them.

But then, she is young and does not yet know about the war that is fixing to change their lives forever.

Before he left for the war in France, Uncle Owen planted an apple tree for Mama.

"I'm trusting you to take care of this tree," he said to Margaret. "Water it every week, and someday, when I get back, we'll pick apples together."

"Will you be gone a long time?" Margaret asked him.

"I might be," Uncle Owen said slowly.

He walked Margaret through the orchard, telling her the names of the apples: Duchess, Astrachan, Bethel, Tetofsky, and Pound Sweet. He'd told them to her lots of times before,and she knew them all by heart, but she didn't mind hearing them again. Margaret knew it was going to be a while before she got to walk with Uncle Owen again, or hear his voice. She would miss Uncle Owen something awful. He seemed more like a brother to her than an uncle. He always listened to her, and he knew her three wishes.

As far back as she could remember, Margaret had wanted to be a doctor, just like Papa.

"Doctoring's no kind of life for a woman," Mama said. "It's too hard and dangerous."

Papa was the only doctor in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. He worked long hours and got called out in all kinds of weather. Being a doctor was a hard life, especially in the Kingdom, where roads were poor, people lived miles from one another, and winter lasted seven months a year. Sometimes, in blizzards, Papa snowshoed to patients, and once, in spring floods, he'd built a raft to get to people who needed him. But Margaret was sure it was just the life she wanted.

"She'll change her mind as she gets older," Mama said to Papa.

Margaret read her papa's medical books, even the parts she didn't understand. She begged and begged to ride with Papa on his house calls, but Mama wouldn't let her go.

"Margaret will make a good doctor," Uncle Owen had said.

"You shouldn't encourage her," Mama had scolded him. "It would be too hard a life for a woman. Maybe she could marry a doctor, like I did."

"No, Mama, I want to be a doctor myself," Margaret had said. Sometimes Mama was so old-fashioned, but Margaret was proud of her mama, too. Mama and Uncle Owen's ma and pa had gotten killed in a train wreck when Mama was only twelve. Mama had raised Uncle Owen and provided for them both. Margaret wondered how Mama had done it. She was almost twelve, too, and couldn't imagine losing Papa and Mama and having to raise up Colin all by herself

Papa said he'd drive Uncle Owen to the train station. But Uncle Owen said, "Thank ye kindly, Reece, but Id as lief walk." He waved good-bye, and Mama cried into her apron.

A Doctor Like Papa. Copyright © by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock is the author of sixteen distinguished books for children. These range from her first novel, The Canada Geese Quilt, an ALA Notable Book, to her popular picture book The Bear That Heard Crying. All of the stories have one thing in common: They are based either on the author's own life or on true stories passed down through the seven generations of her family that have lived in northern Vermont.

When she isn't writing, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock keeps herself busy as an athlete, naturalist, artist, book lover, bagpiper, and rescuer of three horses, seven cats, and eight dogs. She and her husband live in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

James Bernardin is a versatile and prolific illustrator of many acclaimed books for children. He has illustrated Laura Numeroff's Would I Trade My Parents?, Eve Bunting's Too Many Monsters, and Candy Chand's The Twelve Prayers of Christmas. He has also created artwork for numerous book covers, including Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey series.

James lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington State with his wife, Lisa, and two sons, Wyeth and Bryson.

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