My Mother's Apron
My First Grade 1932
Trixie, My Shetland Pony
Book review by Edna Boardman, Bismarck, North Dakota
Three children’s books in a series called Early Dakota Prairie, all packaged with a nice, professional polish about them, tell what author Edward Keller calls memory stories. Each is tightly focused.
In the first, My Mother’s Apron, readers see Keller’s mother move through the day, using her generous apron to facilitate the hard work required of the farm women of her generation. The apron shelters live things, children and animals, and helps transport produce from the garden, eggs from the hen house, and fuel for the stove. The pockets hold her handkerchief and special treats, raisins or gum, bought from the Watkins man.
The second, My First Grade 1932, brings to life the rural school Keller attended. Children from an astonishing number of large families are rounded up, then pass the day learning in their small classes, singing, reciting poems, and writing on the blackboard. They eat syrup and sausage sandwiches from their syrup-pail lunch containers and play games in the schoolyard at recess.
In Trixie, My Shetland Pony, Keller’s father trades “a burlap sack full of wheat and a female calf” to the Ebachs for the Shetland pony he wants so much. He rides the pony constantly and has great fun but also does chores like rounding up cows and other horses, getting the mail from the country mailbox a mile away, and riding to visit neighbors on Sunday. His sister Eleanor also learns to ride.
There are few books like this with the historical and emotional authenticity these books have.
David Christy’s colored, computer-enhanced pencil and watercolor illustrations are genuine works of art. This reviewer found them delightful. In each book, he captures the authentic details and the tone of the setting in which the events of the book occurred.
The full text of each book is provided without interruption on two pages at the end, assisting parents and librarians who might wish to use it to read to individual children or during a children’s story hour.
A negative about the books has to do with flaws in the punctuation and sometimes sentence structure. These show up more clearly in a children’s book with just a few words on a page than in text meant for adults.
An attractive color brochure accompanied these books. They are good choices as gifts and for general use in the prairie region.