Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Little Blog on the Prairie Fun Summer Vacation Story
I just realized that I never really wrapped up my 48 Hour Challenge, and honestly, I didn't do very well this year so maybe that's a good thing. I finished only 2 books, which is an average of a book a day, if I could keep that up all summer I might just get through my pile of books to read. While I won't be winning any of Mother Reader's prizes, I did manage to score some pretty cool ARCs from Cover to Cover and had awesome book conversation with my Central Ohio Blogger friends.
One of the ARCs I picked up was Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell. I hadn't heard anything about this book anywhere, I just loved the title so I thought I'd give it a try. I wasn't disappointed.
Gen's family is firmly planted in suburban life, mini vans, travel soccer, too many hours of work, beach vacations, and Mom decides they need a change. She books the family for a historical experience camp in Wyoming. The camp sends families back to the 1890s prairie and grades them on how well they survive. It sounds like a dream vacation to Mom since she loved the Little House books which have given her a somewhat romanticized view of life on the 1890s prairie.
When the family reaches camp, they are whisked of to the main house where they turn in all of their modern conveniences, phones, iPods, make up, deodorant, tooth paste, clothes, pretty much everything they brought with them. Imagine the distress this causes a 13 year old girl who is firmly planted in the world of shopping malls and electronic devices, Gen is not happy. At the first meeting, the rules of the game are explained by the hard core owner, Ron and his always smiling wife Betsy. I have to admit, when I heard the rules that the campers would basically be doing lots of hard labor to make each of their mini farms a success, only to leave when the crops were ready, I was ready to pack my bags and go home.
The story goes on with all of the hardships of being on a vacation that isn't fun, but hard work. Cathleen Davitt Bell includes teen characters from all groups, there are the jocks, the Goth/Emo girl Ka, a picture of teen angst trying to not act or look like her blonde California blended family, and there's the dream boat hottie boy Caleb. Throw in Nora, the daughter of Betsy and Ron who ,basically spends her life in the 1890s, as Gen's nemesis and you have a really fun tween novel with enough romance and plot twists to keep the middle school girls interested.
The heart of the plot is when Gen gets out the cell phone she hid in her Clearasil box and begins to text her friends back home. Her texts are funny and sometimes mean but well written. One of her friends uses the the texts to create a blog for a summer computer camp she is attending and it becomes a nationwide hit. When it is discovered in the camp that gen has been using a cell phone, everyone is disappointed and there is the threat that her family will be expelled from the 1890s. I really liked how the author handled this, she wrote it in a way that was believable and it brought out the human side of all of the characters. It's revealed that Gen isn't the only one who can't live without her modern conveniences, including the adults. Very well done.
Overall, I liked the book a lot. There were some things that seemed a bit far fetched, for example Gen's father being able to take the whole summer away from it all with no access to the outside world, but I was willing to ignore this because I liked the story. I loved the humor of some of the situations and characters. I probably won't be buying it for the elementary library, a little to much romance, but would highly recommend it for the middle school library. I couldn't help thinking as I was reading that it would make a really great movie for the Disney channel!
Kiss the Book