This week saw the arrival of Melissa Wiley’s new books, the early reader Inch and Roly Make a Wish and the middle-grade novel The Prairie Thief.
Sophie’s reaction to Inch and Roly was, “Are there any more pages?”
I haven’t yet begun reading The Prairie Thief to the girls yet because I selfishly wanted to devour it first myself. And devour was definitely the word for it. If The Prairie Thief had been food, l I’d have wolfed it down without stopping to chew. I’m looking forward to a second read through more slowly with the girls so I can really savor it.
Quick thoughts about The Prairie Thief, trying carefully to avoid spoilers so just a few hints as to my favorite moments. I’m sure I’ll be writing more after the second read through when I’m actually thinking about what I’m reading rather than racing across the surface of the book at the speed of a running prongorn to find out What Is Going to Happen Next:
So many great twists and turns. I love a book that can surprise me and this one had lots of that. It definitely felt like a return to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s prairie world but with a distinctive twist of magic and mystery. Almost as soon as I began reading I plum forgot I was reading a book by one of my blog friends and lost myself in the world of the story.
I love the name O’Gorsebush. And Smirch.
I love how Melissa Wiley writes about hair. She just gets it. I have two little girls. Who usually wear braids. By the end of the day if the braids haven’t come out completely, they are pushing the wisps out of their face so they can eat (or aren’t and are getting food in their hair which I have to comb out the next day.) Two little girls running around on the prairie all day do not have neat, tidy braids. Hair needs to be brushed and rebraided in order to look neat and presentable for a trip into town. Thank you, Lissa, for getting that detail right.
This may seem a silly thing to include but I am so, so glad to have a character need to use the outhouse. Can’t tell you how much it bugs me that no one in the Little House world (or so many other works of historical fiction) ever seems to need a privy or chamberpot. Did Pa Ingalls build an outhouse in Little House on the Prairie? One assumes so; but Laura never says. We get detailed accounts of building the house and barn and digging the well, I always wondered about the sanitary arrangements but Laura is always, maddeningly mum on that point. So glad that this book doesn’t shy away from that early-morning necessity.
Endings often disappoint me. They wind up too quickly without allowing you to savor the resolution. This one felt just about right. You know what makes an ending for me—I just realized this now—it’s when the author provides a little more, a twist at the end that implies more story, more adventures, new characters and new wonders in store. That’s why one of my favorite novel endings of all time is Guy Gavriel Kay’s ending of Tigana. Pitch perfect as far as I’m concerned. The Prairie Thief nails that moment. Instead of ending on the happily ever after it leads you to wonder: Now what’s going to happen next? That’s the way I like to leave a good yarn.
Also, don’t miss Lissa’s post about the wildlife conservation center inspired her book.