Tess loves the prairie. But her parents do not; coming from an easier life, far, far away, they resent the bitter cold winter and the poverty that means burning cow dung for fuel.
Tess and her brother Charlie go out to collect cow patties in secret, but the shame soon turns into pride as they rival each other in finding the best. When they are found out by their haughtiest neighbor, however, Tess feels that she has let her family down. But the neighbor, who scorned her family the previous years, sees Tess in a new light after a courageous event that saves his dog's life.
Based on a true incident, Tess combines authenticity with drama. Set during the 1930s in the Canadian West, it is a remarkably subtle study of a family whose older members are immigrants but whose children are, in the truest sense, at home. The story also explores different kinds of pride, self-respect, courage, and survival.
Hazel Hutchins is a master of compelling stories for young people. She has written more than twenty-five books for children and has won numerous awards, including the Mr. Christie's Book Award, the Silver Birch Award and inclusion in the White Raven Collection of the International Youth Library in Munich.
Ruth Ohi has illustrated many of Hazel Hutchins's picture books. Her joyous, sensitive, and humorous illustrations are familiar to families all over North America.