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Prairie Christmas Hardcover – September 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–This tender story takes place on the Nebraska prairie in 1880. When 10-year-old Emmie's mother, a doctor, is called to the Van Der Meers' home on Christmas Eve to deliver their third child, Emmie is upset–Christmas will be ruined! But when she sees how worried the Van Der Meer children are about their mother and the baby who is coming early, she puts aside her selfishness and calms their fears by helping them to have a real holiday. When the infant finally arrives, Emmie gives him the long scarf her grandmother knitted for her when she was a baby. This memorable tale is beautifully told in clear and simple prose, which is complemented perfectly by the uncluttered, colored-pencil and watercolor drawings. The gray-green hues of the outdoor scenes suggest the bleakness of a prairie winter, while muted yellows, greens, and browns bring warmth to the interiors. Both Van Steenwyck's descriptive text and Himler's well-drawn scenes contrast the poverty of the setting with the richness of the characters' feelings. Christmas tales abound, but this one is a treat for eyes and ears.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Eleven-year-old Emma is disappointed when her mother is called to deliver a baby on Christmas Day. Emma must accompany her, so they travel across the prairie to the Van Der Meer cabin where Mama gets to work and Emma bides her time. As the night wears on, Emma soothes the two young Van Der Meer children, cooks a special Christmas porridge for their breakfast, helps them decorate their tree, and entertains the neighbors who bring food and gifts to the family. At last the new baby arrives, and Emma agrees with her mother that it has been a memorable Christmas. Himler's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations bring the setting (rural Nebraska, 1880) to life and include many details of pioneer existence. Some children will note that one picture (the mother and infant, surrounded by family and livestock, are visited by three neighbors bearing gifts) is reminiscent of Nativity scenes, but a connection is not mentioned in the text. A good choice for reading aloud, especially for Christmas story hours. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802852807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802852809
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,147,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Prairie Christmas" is a beautifully illustrated book about life in the Nebraska prairie on a Christmas Eve in 1880. The full page full color plates and and descriptive writing portray life in the 1880's. The story opens with the disruption of the Christmas Day plans of Emma and her doctor mother when they are called upon to travel to a neighboring farm to deliver a baby on Christmas Eve. Emma reluctantly accompanies her mother and begins to experience self pity because her Christmas Day plans have been dusrupted. When she encounters the frightened brother and sister of the unborn baby she realizes that she is not the only one who had her Christmas celebration plans disrupted. It is then that she reaches out to these frightened and disappointed children. Emma helps to finish the undecorated fir tree with homemade Christmas decorations. She brushes handfuls of her horse's hair to make ornaments with the children. Emma also cooks a special Christmas porridge of rice, raisins, cinnamon and sugar for the children who are very hungry because their mother didn't feel well enough to prepare any meals because of her pregnancy. Neighbors visit the house bearing gifts of cookies and treats. The visiting neighbors wait with Emma and the two children, Hansie and Will. When the baby boy is finally delivered everybody celebrates and Emma and her doctor mother slowly make their way home on a cold starry night. Each of them feel so good and satisfied inside because they were able to give of themselves on this Christmas Eve in spite of the fact that their Christmas plans were disrupted. Christmas is indeed a time when there should be no room for self pity. This book is most appropriate for children in Grade Four or above--even though the book says five years and above. The reading level is too difficult for children below fourth grade.
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Format: Hardcover
This lovely picture book tells the familiar Christmas story with a unique way. Emma accompanies her mother out into the cold prairie night one Christmas Eve to help a neighbor deliver a baby. Unusual for the 1800s' Emma's mother is the local doctor. Emma is only 11, but she's accompanied her mother many times and knows how long it can take a baby to arrive; it seems a little unfair to Emma that they will not have a Christmas. Emma soon realizes that she can give the gift of comfort to the two young children who are worried about their mother. And when three men from neighborhing farms appear at the door with cookies, a lamb and a goat, readers will start to recognize elements of the traditional nativity story. Pencil and watercolor illustrations reflect the cold of the prairie night and the warmth of a family's love. The story is a bit longer and complex for the youngest listeners; it would work best with one-on-one reading or small groups of children in grades 1 and up.
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Format: Hardcover
The year is 1880 and Emma, 10, is the daughter of a doctor which is quite a novelty for that time seeing as the doctor is her mother. It is the early hours of Christmas Day and a knock is heard at the door requesting the doctor to come help deliver a baby. Emma is not too happy that this day has to be the same as any other.

Not enjoying the wait for the baby to arrive, Emma soon realizes that there are two young children in the house who are scared for their mother. Instead of continuing her "sulk", Emma becomes the grown up, keeping the children occupied and fed. Once the neighbors start arriving with gifts for the newborn baby that has yet to be born, they sit around waiting. It is not until they hear the newborn cry do they start celebrating.

A truly delightful story that emulates the story of that first Christmas so long ago.
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