O the Red Rose Tree by Patricia Beatty
William Morrow and Company, 3rd edition, 1972
Genre: Children’s literature, historical fiction
Synopsis & Review:When thirteen-year old Amanda Barnett and her friends Molly, Jessamine, and Euphemia meet the new neighbor Mrs Hankinson, they’re convinced she’s a witch. But her kindliness and fun spirit soon wins them over, just as her poverty, eccentricity, and pride alienate her from some of Nahcotta’s adults, including Amanda’s crotchety grandmother. To show up Grandma Barnett for her snobbery and rudeness, Amanda and the girls offer to help Mrs Hankinson find seven true reds so that she can make the quilt she’s dreamt of for the last sixty-three years of her life, the pattern O the Red Rose Tree–and in the bargain, show up Grandma by winning first prize at the County Fair.
Amanda has her shiftless but handsome brother Allen make a quiltframe for Mrs Hankinson while the girls work on finding seven different reds. On Washington’s Peninsula in 1983, this poses no small task, as the most common red in America is the cochineal-dyed Turkey red. Other than the ubiquitous Turkey red, all other true reds are European and very expensive, but where there’s a will, the girls will find a way. They will brave galloping pneumonia, Kissing John, shipwrecks, a flooded Portland, and do whatever it takes to help Mrs Hankinson.
This was the book I was looking for forever, and I must say, it was worth all the effort. Read the rest of this entry »
Lacy Makes a Match by Patricia Beatty
William Morrow, 1st edition, 1979
Genre: children’s literature, historical fiction
Synopsis & Review: Lacy Bingham has been feeling the loss of her adoptive mother; at twelve, she is the sole woman in the house, and stepping into Ma Bingham’s shoes is a mighty tall order for a girl in school. Frustrated at all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, mending, and more there is to do four her father and three grown brothers, Lacy casts about for some solution. Inspiration comes in the form of her eldest brother Hector’s sudden elopement: if her two other brothers, Michael and Eldon were to marry, then she would have only one other person to look after! And with that, Lacy hatches a scheme to write to a lonely hearts paper for suitable women. As she hunts for wives for her brothers, Lacy also investigates her own past, curious about how she came to be left on the Bingham’s property as a baby.
This is another of Patricia Beatty’s charming novels about spunky young girls on America’s frontiers. Read the rest of this entry »
Melinda Takes a Hand by Patricia Beatty
William Morrow & Co, 1st printing, 1983
Genre: Children’s literature
Synopsis & Review: Thirteen-year old Melinda Carpenter was endowed with generous horse sense, so when her older sister Sarah Jane plans to travel from Chicago to San Francisco to marry her fiancé Edgar Everett Potter III, their aunt and uncle send Melinda along to represent the family and keep an eye on Sarah Jane. But upon their arrival in Goldendale, Colorado to meet his parents, the letter waiting for Sarah Jane so upsets her that she breaks off the engagement right there and then. To protect Sarah Jane and give her some time, Melinda first cables Edgar Everett Potter III with news that Sarah Jane has run off with a train conductor, then cables her aunt and uncle to tell them that Edgar Everett Potter III drowned at sea. Rather than return to Chicago as an object of scorn, Sarah Jane decides to stay in Goldendale, and Melinda stays with her. To earn their keep, Sarah Jane begins housekeeping for a local judge, while Melinda acts as his dog-catcher. Though Goldendale is a tiny town of the Wild West and can’t hold a candle to the Chicago of the World’s Fair, Melinda finds plenty in Goldendale to keep her busy, from errant Great Danes to English lords and their castle, and county seat politics to school bullies. Read the rest of this entry »