Return to Fern Valley: Aileen Stewart
Since my first visit to Fern Valley a lot has happened and I would like to share it will all of you. You won’t believe what Roberta and Mildred Cornstalk find in a library book that sends then all over town looking for answers to three clues and what they find out you just won’t believe. The Cottage follows and we meet our Betsy again as she learns that her parents want to move from her grandmother’s house and find a place for their family. Always a cheerful sheep she is concerned that they might move so far away that she won’t be near her family and her friends. But, walking home from school one day she tried and imagine what kind of house her parents might find and if the realtor would find something close by. Betsy knew that next to a mailbox on a long dirt lane hidden behind a stand of blue spruce was a cottage that was not only perfect she thought but looked well kept up. What happens when Betsy shows her friends and the family cottage? Will they buy it or will she have to move from Fern Valley? Find out when you read this delightful story titled: The Cottage.
What can you create out of a huge cardboard box? Jason Curlytail comes from a huge family of pigs. So, when he sees a box being emptied and left outside the hardware store he began thinking of ways to create a project that he could share with his brothers and sisters. With his father’s help they managed to put the box on his truck and when he got it home he placed behind a clothesline because he did not want anyone seeing what he was going to create. Working on it and preparing his create invention or project Jason decided to unfold it and share it with his family. Just what did he create and did everyone enjoy what he did? Read the box and find out the true meaning of family love.
Alice’s sister Henrietta was about to marry George and she wanted to present them with a special gift for their wedding. Sewing a quilt was her idea and with the help of her friend Sammie and her mother she was able to make this quilt hopefully in time for the wedding. But, not everything goes according to plan and when she was walking home with the quilt she fell on a newspaper and the quilt was soiled. But, Alice although upset knew exactly what do to and who to call for help. Nothing like grandparents to save the day. But, did they and was she able to give her sister and George the present that she wanted? Did they love it? Find out when you read The Gift.
The Yard Sale and The Fair are the next two stories and find out what happens when Tommy decides to help Mrs. Sharpbeak with a yard sale. Just what did he and Abigail find and what treasures will bring back memories to adult readers you just won’t believe. Okay I will give you one: Yoyo’s, how about roller skates that need keys to attach them to shoes and much more. But, the day of the sale it was going to rain. Who comes up with a solution and to the rescue you just won’t believe? Friendship, loyalty and quick decision-making are just some of what kids can learn from this great story and the next one called The Fair.
The Storm is a touching story that helps Alice get to know her new brother-in-law George on a positive way. Feeling alone at times and not sure how things would go after the wedding her sister is helping someone have a baby and she and George have to deal with a raging storm, no electricity and having dinner by candlelight. The story is touching, teaches cooperation, understanding and shows that Alice is resourceful and George is really more like a real brother to her. Sometimes adding a new addition to a family can really make older and younger children feel alone or maybe left out. Nathan Gruff learns that his mother is about to have another baby and instead of getting all upset he wisely enlists the advice and help of a friend who has tons of brothers and sisters. The end is touching and really heartwarming.
The Picnic, The Contest and the Feast are part of the final four but my favorite is The Interview. How many parents would allow their children to handle an important interview and ask a special resident of Fern Valley turning 100 his own special 10 questions. But, Tommy Bigpaw rises to the occasion and watch just how smart and resourceful he is when understanding that he has to take down the answers in order to help his father write the story for the paper.
Each story teaches a lesson that all children of every age should learn. Fairness, understanding, cooperation and of course family love and hope. Once again author Aileen Stewart raises the bar in children’s stories and presents animal characters with human qualities that we can all identify with and learn from. Great for your children’s library, stocking stuffers, read aloud, discussion groups, guidance counselors and just plain fun reading before bed. So glad that I decided to Return to Fern Valley. Hope I Get invited back again.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine
This book gets a special Starred Review