Fern Valley: Aileen Stewart
In a world where both children and adults need to understand and learn lessons from each other in Fern Valley author Aileen Stewart comes across with both. Although the characters are different types of farm animals, she proves that pigs, turkeys, chickens and many others can get along and become friends. It begins with Mildred and Roberta Cornstalk whose grandparents are now in heaven and they want to do something to honor their memory. How about a tea party using Grandma’s special china and how about inviting their friends to join them in a special place that their mother provided for them. Join The Club, but remember your manners and the proper way to drink tea eat those special treats along with Roberta, Mildred and their two special friends.
The Brothers is hilarious as Edward Cornstalk meets the brothers of one of his sister’s friends and their antics will make you smile. Every child wants its parents home for its birthday and Betty Woolrich is no different. It is really hard for her to understand that her parents are away on business all the time and that she lives with her Grandma. But, Betsy is sweet, smart and prepares for her special day with invitations, phone calls and trying her best to smile and plan her birthday party. With a grandmother who understands, her friends that support her she is surely coming to have a great day as readers will fall in love with Betsy when reading her special story titled The Surprise. What happens when Betsy hopes and prays that her parents show up? Read it and find out.
School is about to begin and the children of Fern Valley are preparing for the first day. Preparations all over town are made to spruce things up and they are ready to meet their teacher. Everyone in the same room or schoolhouse seated in his or her proper places and waiting to meet Miss Iris. Each of the children the Curtails, The Woolriches, Bigpaws and my favorite Abigail are ready and willing to share their summer adventures. But, when someone is out of line and laughs or tries to make fun of another student, Miss Iris handles it in a stern but kind way. Abigail loves writing and reciting her ABC’s and Miss Iris makes her feel proud when she shares that she can both recite and write them. How great is that! Some shared fishing, swimming, clubs or parties they attended. Everyone had a great first day. But, the real fun began in October when the class received a special request and surprise to put on a play about nutrition. To find out who played what role and what food they represented you need to enter Miss Iris’s class and join in the fun.
Sometimes some lessons are learned in a different way and children often envy others and want what they cannot have. Kimmy Curtail just wanted a special locket that was displayed in the window of Albertson’s five and dime store. But, even though she lived in a nice house and had most things that she needed she realized that her parents could not afford such luxuries with a large family to care for. Daydreaming in school about it brought her to the attention of Miss Iris and explaining her feelings to her mother did not change the fact that she really wanted the locket. Sometimes events happen for a reason and when her friend Betsy saw her the next day she mentioned that Alice had a new locket that was really beautiful. On the way home one day Betsy spots something shiny on the ground. It turns out to be a locket. Instead of finding out who it belongs to she takes it home, tries it on and realizes it belongs to Alice. But, on closer inspection Betsy learns more about the locket, why Alice cherishes it and she has to decide whether to admit she has it or just let Alice think it is lost. The Locket find out what Betsy decides to do. The Campout is a cute story about several friends wanting to try out sleeping outdoors. Mildred and Roberta invite several friends for a campout but what happens teaches lessons in manners, friendship and safety. Learn more when you read the story.
There are so many great stories in this book that I am going to tell you about only two more so that young children and adults, teachers, guidance counselors, pre-k classes and parents can enjoy reading these stories together. They can even assign parts to children in the first or second grade and act out each story and talk about what lessons are learned. Even third graders can benefit from reading these stories too.
When parents are no longer there one young girl has to live with her older sister. Alice Redfeather loved her sister Henrietta dearly but when George came into her life things changed. Alice liked George but felt that she might become in the way since her sister told her about his proposal in the story titled The Proposal. What happens when Alice says some rude things to George? Will he back out of marry her sister or will they somehow work it out? This could happen in real life and as you read this story created by author Aileen Stewart find out what happens and if Alice comes around.
The Accident is the last story and teaches parents and children what happens when a mistake is made a young child is afraid to admit that he did something wrong but by accident. Jared accidentally broke a window and he is really quite upset but admitting what happened might get him in trouble or will his conscience be his guide and enables him to have the courage to tell the truth?
The lessons are many and the stories are different and each one shows that the characters have human traits that all kids have. The Sitter is great as looks can be deceiving as well as age as the two children that have to stay with Mrs. Sharpbeak learn. Surprises come when you least expect them and great sitters are hard to find.
Come and visit Fern Valley and meet Roberta, Tommy, Betsy, Alice, Miss Iris, Mildred and the rest of the great young animals that make up this great town. Better yet read the book and get to know them and then you just might find yourself returning to Fern Valley real soon. I know I will. Characters that you have to love and stories that create real life situations that kids can talk about and understand. A great stocking stuffer.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ magazine