From School Library Journal
Grade 3-4–This installment about the Freshwater family moves from the previous picture-book format to a beginning chapter book. Readers who have followed this series will be happy to learn that motherless Elvira gains a loving stepmother when her father marries the Widow Aiken. She isn't happy about it at first, though. When her brother breaks his leg just before harvest time, she suggests to her father that the widow and her sons could trade work with the Freshwaters. Life isn't easy in the Michigan woods of the 19th century, and in Elvira's eyes, this is just a business deal to get things done. Although she doesn't intend to let anyone forget her late mother, the girl eventually sees that the woman and her sons would be a wonderful stepfamily. Her stepmother reinforces the point when she teaches Elvira to read. Himler's full-page pencil drawings help to set the period. They show the Widow Aiken as not especially pretty, but gently kind. The dialogue in dialect may be a little hard for newly independent readers to follow, but they will relate to Elvira's first-person narrative. Consider this a well-written story for those who aren't quite ready for the longer novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder.–Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The love story in this chapter book is about adults, but the viewpoint is that of a young child. A sequel to Howard's picture book Log Cabin Quilt
(1996), which focused on Elvirey's grief after the death of her mother and her family's subsequent move to Michigan, this book finds Elvirey suggesting to Pa that their widowed neighbor, Mrs. Aiken, and her sons help harvest the crops. When Pa and Widow Aiken fall in love, Elvirey is furious. The widow is just too perfect; she not only makes a wonderful home but also seems to understand Elvirey's rudeness and anger. Other characters, however, are achingly real, especially Pa, who starts off stressed and angry, and then changes. Himler's beautiful, realistic pencil drawings express the intense feelings and connections among the people in the small cabin, and show the hard daily work that was part of life. The family wedding portrait makes a fitting cover for this touching novel. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved