This affectionate look at the good ole days of the 1880's Nebraska prairie features a female doctor and her eleven-year-old daughter, Emma. Told from Emma's perspective, it begins with the mother being called out in the middle of Christmas Eve to deliver a baby at a neighbor's house. Emma is perturbed that the upcoming Christmas day celebration will be interrupted. When she arrives at the neighbors with her mother, she is left to entertain the young brother and sister of the anticipated newborn. As the adults attend to the birth in one room, Emma helps divert the youngsters' concern by preparing them a snack and creating trimmings for their bare Christmas tree. As morning nears, neighbors arrive with food and gifts. Finally, the baby arrives and a real celebration ensues. This updated version of the Christmas story is a reminder of the meaning surrounding the Christmas Day. Pencil and watercolor illustrations bring period prairie life alive.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This tender story takes place on the Nebraska prairie in 1880. When 10-year-old Emmie's mother, a doctor, is called to the Van Der Meers' home on Christmas Eve to deliver their third child, Emmie is upset-Christmas will be ruined! But when she sees how worried the Van Der Meer children are about their mother and the baby who is coming early, she puts aside her selfishness and calms their fears by helping them to have a real holiday. When the infant finally arrives, Emmie gives him the long scarf her grandmother knitted for her when she was a baby. This memorable tale is beautifully told in clear and simple prose, which is complemented perfectly by the uncluttered, colored-pencil and watercolor drawings. The gray-green hues of the outdoor scenes suggest the bleakness of a prairie winter, while muted yellows, greens, and browns bring warmth to the interiors. Both Van Steenwyck's descriptive text and Himler's well-drawn scenes contrast the poverty of the setting with the richness of the characters' feelings. Christmas tales abound, but this one is a treat for eyes and ears.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this thoughtful, first-person narrative of pioneer life in 1880, Emma is ten years old, living with her mother in Nebraska in a small but comfortable home out on the prairie. Emma's mother is a doctor, and because it's just the two of them in their household, Emma must accompany her mother whenever she goes out on house calls with her horse and buggy. In the middle of the night on Christmas, they are summoned to help with the delivery of a baby on a neighboring farm. At first Emma is resentful that her Christmas will be spent waiting for her mother, but she finds that she is needed to help with the two younger children of the family while all the parents are occupied with the new baby's arrival. Emma helps the brother and sister decorate their Christmas tree with simple items from the house, cooks them breakfast and waits for hours with the children and more neighbors who come to help. Himler's soft-focus illustrations in pencil and watercolor provide quiet but dramatic views of a simpler time, with expressive faces on both people and animals. (Picture book. 4-8)