by Walter D. Edmonds
Set during the French and Indian War, this 1942 Newbery winner tells of
an episode in a Dutch-American frontier family. When the father is gone
to track Indians, a scouting group of braves comes to the house, with
only the young mother, Gertrude, and her eldest child Edward, to fight
them off. Really no more than a short story, this slim book’s charm is
in its tossed-off details – the young couple getting married despite his
mother’s objections, the way another man rides his horse, the chores
that need to be done on the frontier, the loft which the children sleep
in heated by the day's fire – which give it some depth and make its
characters more relatable. The “plot,” which just boils down to one
brief and somewhat dubious action, is not particularly interesting.
It’s a nice story, but was it really the best children’s book of its
year? I can’t imagine it.