Sunday, July 22, 2018


Bianco, Margery Williams. Winterbound
January 15th 2014 by Dover Publications (first published 1936)
Ohio E Book Library copy

Kay and Garry like living in rural New England, even though they have their sights on something better if they can ever get the money together to go to college or travel. Their father is on an archaeological expedition, and their mother is trying to make ends meet with young Caroline and Martin as well. When an aunt of hers has a spot on her lung and must take the air in New Mexico but can't possibly go alone, the mother decides to leave the girls in charge and take off. She does hire a companion for them, a Mrs. Cummings, but once she is settled in, the friction between her and the older girls is so unbearable that they fire her and even give her a month's salary she hasn't earned. This makes them short of housekeeping money. Kay and Garry both have plans; Kay is writing and illustrating a book, and Garry works for a young couple with a new baby who also run a local greenhouse. In time honored tradition, they also look to take in a border to help with expenses. There are neighbors and local personalities who help out, but there is certainly a lot they don't tell their mother... and her letters indicate that she is also perhaps not telling them everything. The local landowner who is renting the family the house is oddly involved with their lives, and a little mystery involving him is quickly solved. The mother returns home, the house gets wallpapered, and things are on the upswing as the book ends.
Strengths: Clearly, I missed my opportunity not leaving my girls alone so that I could go care for an ailing relative when they were in high school. Such a common theme in children's books back at this time period, but it makes more sense when you think that parents also would basically kick their children out of the house if they didn't have enough money to care for them, thinking that the children would be better off that way. (Think Hunt's 1970 No Promises in the Wind.) From a child's perspective, it means a lot of FREEDOM, and this is no doubt why I would have adored a book like this when I was a tween. This was somewhat similar to Sorenson's Miracles on Maple Hill, and holds up surprisingly well, even though the details of daily life like stoves and pumps would be a revelation to modern children.  I especially appreciated that the girls were very modern thinking.
Weaknesses: There is some discussion about the local taxi driver who is willing to drive Negro housemaids to the movies. She does so unapologetically, since the women are perfectly nice, she needs the income, and the other women she drives won't find out. Still, scenes like this can often be misread, so bear their inclusion in mind.
What I really think: I'm a sucker for winter books (although this covers several seasons) and I sort of want to buy it for our historical fiction unit because of all of the good details (writing letters every other day! Driving cross country! Spots on the lungs!), but I think the only available coy would be an e copy.

Ms. Yingling


  1. This book sounds fascinating! The premise of two kids living alone and running a home is neat. Thanks so much for the review!

  2. I have this one, and quite like it! I'm a sucker for winter books too, especially in summer...