The Little House books have captivated millions of readers with their story of Laura Ingalls, a little pioneer girl growing up on the American frontier. Now travel back to the generation before Laura's and read the story of Caroline Quiner, the little girl who would grow up to be Ma Ingalls in the beloved Little House books.
The first three books in the series describe the Quiners' first years without Father and the family's move to a new home deep in the big woods of Concord, Wisconsin. Caroline is nine years old, and she feels settled in her new little house. She's beginning to explore Concord, and is looking forward to going to school, when disaster strikes. It's a cholera epidemic, and it's sweeping the state. It's up to Caroline to help keep her family together and pull them through this terrible time.
On Top Of Concord Hill is the fourth book in The Caroline Years, an ongoing series about the adventures of another girl from America's favorite pioneer family.
About the Author
Maria D. Wilkes first read the Little House books as a young girl and has been fascinated by pioneer history ever since. She did extensive research on the Quiner, Ingalls, and Wilder families, studied original sources and family letters and diaries, and worked in close consultation with several historians and the Laura Ingalls Wilder estate as she wrote the Caroline Years books. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Peter, and her daughters, Grace and Natalie.
Dan Andreasen has illustrated many well-loved books for children, including River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain and Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, both by William Anderson, as well as many titles in the Little House series. He lives with his family in Medina, Ohio.
Read an Excerpt
We're going to town! We're going to town!" Eliza sang out as Carolinehelped button up her red plaid dress. Eliza was two years younger, and thedress hadbeen Caroline's the year before. Mother had tucked and hemmed it so that it now fit Eliza perfectly.
"Concord is not really a town." Caroline sighed. "Not like Brookfield."
Brookfield was thirty miles away. It was a proper town with a wagon maker's, a shoemaker's, a blacksmith's, and best of all a general store with shelves overflowing with everything anyone would ever want to buy. Brookfield was where Caroline had lived all her life until just last year. Now she lived deep in the woods, in a small house made of logs.
Concord was only two miles away. It was supposed to be a town, but it was really just a place where two roads crossed each other.
"Brookfield was not very big when Mother and Father first settled there," Martha said in her know-it-all voice. Ever since she had turned eleven, Martha had been acting very grown up. Now she whirled around, admiring how her pretty green sprigged calico skirt flounced about. Only Martha's dress was new. Martha had been allowed to pick the fabric from the bolts of cloth Zobey the peddler had brought in his leather sacks when he had come traipsing through the woods the month before. Martha was lucky. She was the oldest girl, and so she always got to wear the dresses first.
"Mother said there are lots of new settlers in these parts just like us," Martha continued matter-of-factly, "I bet we'll see all kinds of folks today at Camp Meeting."
Caroline felt a quiver of excitement run through her. They had not met many neighbors in thewhole year they had lived in their little cabin surrounded by tall fir trees and thick oaks. But today was a special day. They were going to Concord for a Camp Meeting. Caroline did not really know what a Camp Meeting was. Mother said there would be preaching and singing, just like in church. Caroline knew there might also be marrying, although Mother had not said so.
Caroline bit her lip and glanced sideways at her sisters. She longed to tell them the secret she had been keeping for weeks. A secret no one, not even Mother, knew she was holding inside. Two months before, in April, Caroline had overheard something she knew she was not meant to hear. Standing just around the side of the cabin, Caroline had listened while Mr. Holbrook asked Mother to marry him.
Mr. Holbrook was one of Mr. Austin Kellogg's workers. Mother had been hired byMr. Kellogg, the richest man in Concord, to cook for these workers last year. Every day for several months, strange men had come into Caroline's home morning, noon, and night, and Mother had prepared food for them. Most of the men had been rough and very rude. They had terrible manners while they gulped down food at Mother's table. But Mr. Holbrook had been different. He was quiet and thoughtful. In his spare time he had helped the boys around the farm. At Christmas he had even bought them shiny panes of glass to put in the window frames, replacing the pieces of tanned deerskin they had stretched over the openings. Mr. Holbrook pretended that Santeclaus had brought the glass panes, but Caroline knew better.
Mother had not said yes or no to Mr. Holbrook's proposal. As Caroline had listened, Mother had told him that she would make her decision by the time the circuit rider came through Concord in June. The circuit rider was Reverend Speakes. And he would be preaching at CampMeeting today.
"Are you girls ready?" Mother's voice rang out cheerfully from the bedroom she shared with the girls. Caroline turned to look, and as Mother stepped into the cabin's main room, she let out a little gasp.
All through the winter and spring Caroline had seen Mother in the same brown woollen dress and white apron every day. Now she wore her fine striped blue dress with the dainty lace trim around the collar. Tiny pearl buttons ran in a perfect line from her throat all the way down to her toes. The skirt flared out from Mother's perfectly slender waist in a lovely bell shape. Her long black hair had been brushed until it shone and was coiled back into a heavy twist.
"You're so pretty!" Eliza cried, rushing to touch the dress with careful fingers.
For weeks Caroline had been looking for signs that Mother was going to be married again. It had been five whole years since Father's ship had gone down in a terrible storm. Caroline missed Father very much. She thought about him every day. She did not know if she would like having a new father. Mr. Holbrook did not smile very much. He did not laugh and joke and sing the way Father had. But Caroline knew Mr. Holbrook was kind and gentle. He had done a great many nice things for them for no reason at all.
Now, as Caroline watched Mother give a playful little curtsey to Eliza, her green eyes sparkling, she wondered if this was a sign. Surely Mother wearing her very best dress and looking so happy meant that she had made her decision.
"Let me look at my pretty girls," Mother said, clapping her hands together.
Caroline stood in a row with her sisters, and Mother pulled at their sleeves and checked their hems one last time.
"I'm glad this dress still fits you," Mother said when it was Caroline's turn.
"Me too." Caroline smiled. The dress was a soft, shimmery blue. It had been Martha's last year, but for once Caroline hadn't minded getting Martha's hand-me-down. Caroline had loved the silky blue dress from the momentshe had first seen it. Martha had worn it only a few times before she had grown too big for it. So it was almost new. The material felt. cool against her clean skin. Caroline was glad they had had their baths the night before, even though it had only been Friday and not Saturday.On Top of Concord Hill. Copyright © by Maria Wilkes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Caroline and her family are adjusting to living in Concord, and things are coming together. Caroline's mother marries Mr. Holbrook, and the family has to adjust to a new "Pa." This is a happy addition however, and the family struggles through helping to build a mill, a cholera epidemic, and an early frost. Everything comes together at last, however, and the family finds themselves stronger than before.
My daughters and I really enjoy reading the Caroline series by Wilkes and Wilkins. The books are written with the same energy and spirit of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
I really like this book because it tells of friendships, and what it was like to move in the 1800's.
It was such a wonderful story, as with the previous three as well! I can't wait until the next one comes out. You really get to know Caroline and her siblings, going through their hardships, illness, and their exciting adventures of everyday life in the mid 1800's.
Another great book about Little House fans! When do we get another one from the Caroline years?