Thursday, July 8, 2010

LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Family vacations should be fun.  They should include things like amusement parks, loaded cruise ships, motel swimming pools and room service, and maybe an odd national park or two.  Vacations should most definitely not include weeding a cornfield, a constant diet of cold grits and beans, doing the laundry by hand, and sleeping with your little brother.  Gen Welsh has some opinions about family vacations, and the one her family takes is certainly not what she expected.

Gen is looking forward to a summer of soccer camps and time with her friends by the rec center pool.  When her mother announces that the family will be going to Camp Frontier for six weeks and living like it is the 1890's, Gen is sure she must be joking.  It is not until they actually arrive at the reenactment vacation site, and she has handed over her iPod and traded in her clothes for stockings, a petticoat, and a bonnet that reality hits.  They will be joining three other families to eat, sleep, and live in another century.

Crammed into a stuffy cabin no bigger than their garage, Gen finds herself sleeping with her little brother in the same crowded loft as her mom and dad.  Every modern convenience she can imagine is suddenly missing from her life.  They will be cooking on a wood stove if her mother can figure out how to light it.  They will do their laundry by hand, milk a cow twice a day, care for four acres of corn, and use an incredibly unpleasant outhouse.

The only thing that makes life bearable is the new cell phone Gen is able to sneak in.  She uses it to quietly text her friends back home to vent about the horrible conditions and the odd characters sharing her vacation.  When one friend begins using Gen's text messages as the feature for a blog project in her summer school computer class, Gen's story becomes part of something she never could have imagined.

Author Cathleen Davitt Bell takes readers on the vacation from hell.  Her descriptions of living life as it was back in 1890 are enough to make any modern-day, tech savvy teen cringe.  It might be interesting to visit a museum with an old time village or farm setting, but to actually live it for almost two months would strike horror in most.  Bell includes a nice mix of humor, mystery, frustration, and danger to create a captivating read.

No comments: