It’s the early 1900’s, and the Fellows family has decided to make a go of homesteading in the Oregon high desert. But the venture has been disastrous. Inexperienced Mr. Fellows resents any advice from his wife, who grew up on a farm. Ma is not only troubled about that, but 7-year-old Ellie’s chronic illness is a source of worry and expense. 12-year-old Chris eases his own misery by stealing away from work to watch a neighbor’s wild black pony, only to get into trouble. Then, when it seems things could not get worse, Fellows gets drunk and dies. Not willing to give up, Ma stubbornly—and creatively—seeks a way for the family to stay in Oregon. Frank Chase, an unintentional element in the death of Chris’s father, is added to the mix and challenged by Ma to keep his word to help the family. The dramatic and sometimes humorous contest of wills comes to a satisfying culmination when, after Frank’s purchase of the wild black pony for Chris, Ma is reluctantly forced to once again use her “backbone of steel” for the good of all. A great family read-aloud!
Ages 10 and up
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