Prairie Willow

Prairie Willow

by Maxine Trottier, Laura Fernandez, Rick Jacobson
     
 

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Life is difficult for a family trying to make a home and a decent living on the prairies. There are the fields to till, the sod house to build, the crops to tend, and always, the harsh elements to endure. But for her help that year, young Emily can choose the thing she most wants. Surrounded by a vast ocean of grass, a fiat featureless horizon, and an endless sky, she… See more details below

Overview

Life is difficult for a family trying to make a home and a decent living on the prairies. There are the fields to till, the sod house to build, the crops to tend, and always, the harsh elements to endure. But for her help that year, young Emily can choose the thing she most wants. Surrounded by a vast ocean of grass, a fiat featureless horizon, and an endless sky, she longs most for a tree.

Planted lovingly in the springtime of her life, Emily's weeping willow becomes a living symbol of the warmth, strength and history shared by generations of one family. And it stands as a marker for all those who bravely set roots down in the dark soil of the prairies.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Cathy Greenwood
Little Emily and her parents are homesteaders who travel West and start building their new life in a sod house with fields planted behind a horse-drawn plow. Simple text accompanies illustrations that are rich in the colors of the prairie and full of the activities of these hard-working immigrants. The struggles of everyday tasks are balanced by family cohesion and the joy that Emily's willow tree brings. The little seedling sprouts and grows over the years into the family's tree-a symbol of her family's history of endurance, love and courage.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3--Emily and her family move West to become homesteaders. The open spaces and the prairie grasses remind the girl of an ocean. She dreams of trees. When there is money leftover from the first harvest, her father asks her what they need. She knows right away--a tree. In the spring, her willow tree arrives and is planted. Years pass, the tree blossoms, and Emily grows old. Through all the changes in her life, the willow remains strong, solid, and reassuring. Rich paintings in warm, earthy tones fill double- and single-page spreads. Although the quality of the illustrations varies, the majority of them are filled with light and convey the robust flavor of life on the prairie. The story, however, shifts tone rather abruptly midstream, as the leisurely, lyrical descriptions of prairie life give way to a hurried account of Emily's later life. Despite the slightly stilted plot development and the irregular quality of the illustrations, the book would be a worthwhile addition to picture books on the Western experience. Brett Harvey's My Prairie Year (Holiday, 1986) and Jean Van Leeuwen's Going West (Dial, 1992) present richer accounts of life on the prairie, but Trottier creates some compelling images in her portrayal of a woman as deeply rooted to the prairie as the willow tree that is her constant comfort in a world of change.--Carolyn Stacey, Jefferson County Public Library, Golden, CO
Kirkus Reviews
This soulful and melancholy tale from Trottier is nevertheless light on its worldly feet. It is the story of a family settling on the great Canadian prairie: Mama, Papa, Emily, and baby Jack. As they make their mark on the homestead, and when a little extra cash is available, Papa lets Emily decide what to spend it on. A willow is ordered and planted; it measures their days as it grows, is head high when the children first go to school, offers shade when Jack goes off to war, and serves as sanctuary when the telegram arrives that tells them that Jack has died for his country. Life goes on for Emily. She inherits the farm, regales her grandchildren with stories of the early years, and as an old woman, dreams of seeing Jack in the distance and goes to join him. Handsome, moody illustrations give this story its strong sense of place and convey the coursing of time. But despite the lulling interludes, Trottier pulls no punches: Emily is not spared life's many stings, and readers will feel those stings, as well. (Picture book. 5-8)

From the Publisher
"This achingly beautiful story of a young girl and her pioneer family evokes the vastness of the land, the whisper of the wind and the promise and hope of people who settled the endless prairie. Maxine Trottier's lyric prose captures the rhythm of the seasons and of life itself."
-- Starred ReviewQuill & Quire

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780773730670
Publisher:
Stoddart Kids
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Pages:
24
Product dimensions:
11.45(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.53(d)
Lexile:
AD420L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Maxine Trottier:
A prolific writer and educator, Maxine Trottier makes history come alive in picture books and novels for young readers. Her award-winning titles include Claire's Gift, The Paint Box, and Prairie Willow. Maxine's books have earned the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and twice the Ontario Woman Teacher's Federation Writing Award. Born in Michigan, Maxine is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. and makes her home in Port Stanley, Ontario.

Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson:
are an award-winning husband-and-wife team who have illustrated a number of beautiful picture books for children. Their works have earned them the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award. Rick and Laura live in Toronto with their three children. Visit their web site at www.jacobsonfernandez.com.

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