Set in the early twentieth century, Lost on the Prairie is a well-researched and imaginative coming of age story for young readers. – Manitoba Book Awards Jury
Kids will love following Peter’s many adventures and, when they find out this book is inspired by true events they will be so surprised. – Kari Tanaka- (University of Lethbridge Bookstore)
My love for Canadian authors knows no bounds, and this book is one reason why. Love the adventurous perspective of the young protagonist as he is accidentally abandoned on the prairies in 1907. Highly recommend! – Lori Emilson- curriculum support teacher (Ashern, Manitoba)
Lost on the Prairie received a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED review from the Canadian Review of Materials from reviewer Janet Foster. You can read her review here.
Local author MaryLou Driedger used her grandfather’s story to help her write Lost on the Prairie. He was left behind in a disconnected boxcar as the family travelled from Kansas to Saskatchewan. In Driedger’s mid-level novel, set in 1907, 12-year-old Peter Schmidt faces the same calamity. There’s plenty of action and suspense as Peter spends time with an Indigenous family, helps rescue a man from quicksand, and gets stranded on a broken Ferris wheel. Peter shows resourcefulness and courage as he faces numerous hazards and learns about places (including early Winnipeg) he never knew existed. Readers ages 8-12 will find excitement on every page as they trace Peter’s journey north.- Helen Norrie- Winnipeg Free Press – July 17th
What an adventure! It starts off with a bang and the action doesn’t let up. I know lots of students in my grade 8 class who will enjoy this book. The back matter is equally fun to read because I got to learn about the author’s connection to the story and which parts were based on fact. The main character grows and changes through his adventures. Honestly, I read this book in a day because it was such fun and so hard to put down. It will be a welcome addition in any grade 4-8 classroom. This is a gem of a book!
–Colleen Nelson’s fourteen books for children and teens have garnered a long list of awards. Her 2021 middle-grade novel Harvey Comes Home was named the Manitoba Book of the Year for Young People and was a Governor General’s Award nominee.
I can recommend to you MaryLou Driedger’s Lost on the Prairie, a middle-grade historical fiction novel about a young Mennonite boy travelling from the US midwest to Saskatchewan in 1907. It is a sensitively told adventure, meticulously researched and based on her family history, that pre-teens/young teens will enjoy but that their parents can also! – Zilla Jones- winner of The Malahat Review Open Season Fiction Contest
Lost on the Prairie had my attention from the first line to the last. I loved the plot, the characters, the quick pace, the details incorporated that made the time period come alive, the rich language and clever phrases that often made me chuckle… In short, I loved everything about the book. Kids and teachers are going to love it, too. and I hope the book has a long and happy life on the bestseller list where it surely belongs.
–Larry Verstraete’s sixteen books for children have garnered many awards. His latest novel Coop the Great was a 2020 honour book for the Young People’s Choice Award in Manitoba and will soon be available in Germany with Merlin Verlag Publishers.
We have just finished reading Lost On The Prairie. We enjoyed it so much. Our grandsons always get a stocking gift from Grandma and Grandpa and your book fits the bill this year. We knew your Grandpa and will enjoy telling our grandsons about our memories of their great-great-great Uncle Peter. Christmas book gifts are read out loud in our family. So happy Lost on the Prairie is doing well. Looking forward to more stories. – Ted and Joanne Ewert (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
This book was difficult to put down. It will hold the attention of younger and older readers as Peter moves from one adventure to another at a rapid pace. No need to read through chapters waiting for the next exciting escapade. It is so very well researched. I felt I was in the Minneapolis train station in 1907. I loved, loved, loved the inclusion of Mark Twain. But, what will stay with me the most, is how the book gives a central place to First Nations people. Peter sees them through eyes of wonder and curiosity as a child. He is not afraid or suspicious. The fact that they are heroes and friends in the story is wonderful. Peter sees what is similar to his own family and is respectful and appreciative of the differences. The fact that he cherishes the moccasins made by the grandmother for him speaks to this. This is how I wish adults, as well as children, could view those of different cultures to our own. This book is not only a great read but a must-read!- Peggy Martens (Altona, Manitoba)
Lost on the Prairie is a terrific read and full of great adventures. The author really lets you get inside the hero Peter’s head. I was holding my breath in so many places in the book including when Peter almost missed the train in Winnipeg. I really admired the research that was done to make the story authentic. I loved that Mark Twain is in the book as a real person. I also liked the combination of fiction and real life and the family photos that were included. I look forward to the author’s next book.
–Beryl Young is the award-winning author of novels, picture books, and biographies for children. Her latest book Show Us Where You Live Humpback was just released in May 2021 by Greystone Kids.
A great adventure story for middle-grade boys. Historical fiction about family always interests me. In this book, the protagonist gets lost during an immigration journey from Kansas to Saskatchewan. Inspired by a true story! The author seems to have researched the South Dakota Indigenous Peoples with great care and detail. In general, the book appears well researched. I loved the writing . . . the strong verbs, the visual details, the clever connection to 1907 reading material, and Peter’s connection to animals. Kids will love it
-Gabriele Goldstone is the author of The Kulak’s Daughter, a Resource Links Best of 2010 selection that received a Silver Moonbeam Award. The follow-up, Broken Stone, was Highly Recommended by CM Reviews. Both books were shortlisted for Manitoba Book Awards. Her latest novel Tainted Amber spent several weeks on the McNally Robinson Bestseller list.
I loved your book, Lost on the Prairie. It really captured the prairie flavour that the US and Canada have in common. – Diane Driedger (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The challenge for a writer of fiction is always the delicate relationship between fact and fiction; without fact, it would be fantasy. MaryLou has faced this challenge in her most recent novel, Lost on the Prairie, where she artfully draws on the lives and experiences of her family going back as far as a hundred years. What to many would be seen as relatively ordinary events and unremarkable people, MaryLou has transformed into a spellbinding story of the adventures of a 12-year-old boy. Far from being just a children’s story, Lost on the Prairie has appeal for adults as well as seniors. – Dr Esther Matz (Winnipeg, Manitoba)- author of the Pineview Mystery Series
This book was so enjoyable I could hardly put it down! Now I want to read it to our grandsons; I know they will love it, too. – Pat Boese (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
My son and I just finished reading Lost on the Prairie. Loved it! – Tara Klassen (Steinbach, Manitoba)
I have never been so excited about getting a book from Amazon as I was when your book arrived at our door! My husband and I have both read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed the encounter with Samuel Clemens and his rather surprising behaviour in the dining room. What a great idea to incorporate that final quote of his book into your story with Peter.- Ruth Tiessen (Kingsville, Ontario)
I just finished reading your book in under 24 hours. It is a lovely story, so very beautifully narrated from the perspective of a child. You have integrated personal stories within the historical background and the poetic language captures the childlike wonder of Peter’s many experiences. The beauty of nature, the goodness of people, and the growth of a child make this bildungsroman so very readable. I learned so much about the time period and the places. To think you have recreated episodes from your own grandfather’s history is poignant and amazing. One of the many descriptions that were evocative …. “Mama’s worry snakes up two flights of stairs and ricochets off the sloping ceilings.” Altogether a gem of a book even the size and dimensions of the physical copy embodies this, as well as the paper used, the dedication to your mother, and the thought-provoking study guide. – Meena Stephen (Hong Kong, China)
I am loving your book. It is tremendous! Believe me when I say it is spectacular and the study guide is the best I have ever seen. – Jodi Carmichael (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I loved your book! I bought it a couple of weeks ago and read it quickly – a page-turner. Then I gave it to my son’s family. Their oldest is a boy who just turned 12, so very timely! They planned to read it as a family. I’m sure they will enjoy it. I live near Newton, Kansas, and also have relatives in Drake, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. That made it doubly enjoyable and meaningful to me!- AnnaBeth Birky( Newton, Kansas)
Even though I was familiar with the fantastic cover design of your book, I was still surprised when I finally held it in my hands for the first time. It is such a pleasure to hold. I love its size. It is small but satisfyingly thick- not too thick-but happily substantial. I’m enjoying Peter’s voice, point of view, and adventures.– Erin Unger (Steinbach, Manitoba)
Land sakes MaryLou, what an imagination you have. A real page-turner from the first to the last. You had me grinning and even tearing up at a few moments. A big standing O. I am clapping really loud. – Julie Driedger (Leamington, Ontario)
I totally enjoyed the story! It was well written and accurately researched. – Ernest Klassen (Steinbach, Manitoba)
Although the author had a middle-school audience in mind, Lost on the Prairie is a fabulous read for all ages. The story follows a young boy who gets separated from his family as they travel to Canada, and he must find his way alone, across the immense prairie landscape– Millie Hildebrand ( Winnipeg, Manitoba)
As a former educator, I soooo enjoyed this book. It was a quick, engaging read. It kept me wanting to continue reading to find out what happens to Peter. The development and evolution of the story had interesting twists and turns. I kept thinking about what reading Lost on the Prairie would be like with my former students and what their reactions would be. It brought back memories of specific students who I know would love the book. Bringing in Mennonite and First Nation cultures is an opportunity for great discussions. The bonus for teachers is the Study Guide. Well done!- Barbara Walker (Edmonton, Alberta)
Just finished reading ‘Lost on the Prairie’ – I enjoyed it very much! You kept my interest throughout the whole book. Thanks for writing it. A good read for a young reader as well as an adult!!!- Elizabeth Reimer (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
The boy in this book dreams of going on a grand adventure like many kids my age do. The way the author weaves words to create such vivid images is amazing. The book teaches us about the kind of travel our ancestors had to do to come to Canada. This was a good read! – Aria Klaasen- (student at the St. Anne Collegiate, Manitoba)
I read your interesting book almost non-stop. There were so many parts of it that it felt like home, and I recognized the people. Thanks so much for doing all that research.- Mildred Schroeder (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Congratulations on writing a wonderful novel! I enjoyed the read. While reading it I took special notice of your weaving family history with the history of the early 1900s. The book will appeal to the young reader but also resonate with older generations. Working in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer adventures worked well with those of Peter Schmidt’s own travels from Kansas to Saskatchewan. I liked that you brought in both “First Nation” and “Mennonite” family cultures and values. – Mary Fransen (Hesston, Kansas)
I think your writing is just BEAUTIFUL! I could come up with dozens of examples that stand out – right now I’m thinking of your description of those butterflies. I loved the whole section with the Little Thunder family. – Esther Dick (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I just finished reading this delightful book. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story set in 1907, filled with wonder and adventure. I loved following along with Peter as he made his way to his new home. Congrats on this lovely novel! – Kelly Weiss (Chicago, Illinois)
A spellbinder, for sure! Peter is such a likeable young man, and the whole story told in his voice makes it so easy to get swept away, visually imagining as each new adventure unfolds. I thoroughly enjoyed following Peter’s adventures, and will heartily recommend your book to others. I found it a very easy, interesting, and satisfying read! –Robert Way (Gatineau, Quebec)
What a delightful book! I read the book in two sittings and thought how much fun this would be for kids to read. I loved the bit about the horses – Gypsy and Prince – and the unique relationship Peter had with them. I can see how this would be a perfect book to be read serially in class – with the kids anticipating the next adventure. I perused your guide for discussion – and teachers should be so lucky to have that additional tool.- Nettie Peters (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I just finished your novel, and I loved it! You are a wonderful author. – Penny Willis (Leamington, Ontario)
The first summer read is complete… I can’t say enough good things about this captivating little book!! Yes, it’s a children’s book, and for that, I loved it even more! – Pam Unrau (Steinbach, Manitoba)
The book is very enjoyable! It would be a great middle years text, hits so many curricular themes, relatable for prairie kids, and it’s a fun story with just the right amount of edge. – Joel Driedger (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
Lost on the Prairie is a spellbinding story of twelve-year-old Peter Schmidt moving from Kansas to Saskatchewan. The first chapter hooks you and you can’t put it down. You are on pins and needles wondering will Peter make it to his destination? This novel is a treasure!! – Pat Trottier (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I really enjoyed your book and could see my 12-year old self enjoying the read as well. Some descriptions I liked were “they look straight ahead, their faces as empty as the blackboard at the end of the school day.” – “I think my heart might jump right out of my chest and land with a splash in my bean soup.” – “A new thought streaks like a runaway train through my head”. I hope Manitoba schools and public libraries will soon have this book on their shelves. Well done! -Barb Lane ( Steinbach, Manitoba)
I just read your book on the weekend. It’s terrific! I am looking forward to our discussion in my book club when we all read it and meet you! – Adelia Neufeld Wiens (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I enjoyed your book immensely!! It kept me reading, wanting to know what would happen next. I kept imagining that this is what middle years students look for. It is a book full of adventure in which you feel empathy with the hero. – Marge Giesbrecht (Landmark, Manitoba)
What a wonderful book by an amazing writer. – Susan Mooney (Carmen, Manitoba)
I got home after a few days away to find your book had arrived. I was so excited to read it, I sat down after dinner and read the whole thing! I LOVED reading about Peter’s adventures!! You have a beautiful, descriptive writing style that captures the imagination and sweeps the reader up right into the story. Congratulations! I hope there will be another one…perhaps about Peter and Annie?- Mari Hubbard (Ankeny, Iowa)
Lost on the Prairie is a sweet story with wonderful writing. I often chuckled or laughed out loud as I read. I was sorry to see the book end. – Meg Cameron ( Kenora, Ontario)
Congratulations on your book “Lost on the Prairie”. I read it on a nice sunny afternoon and found it very entertaining. I love “historical fiction” or “fiction based on fact”, and this was certainly in that vein. I also enjoy reading about the times in which our grandparents and great-grandparents lived. I am a nostalgic person! I will give your book to my middle-school-aged grandchildren, emphasizing that they think about the fact that if the 11-year-old Peter can overcome such adversity and challenges, so can they! And there are many good people around who want to help those in need. – Garry Austman (Steinbach, Manitoba)
I just finished reading Lost on the Prairie and I wanted to send you a note. I couldn’t put it down. I especially resonated with your portrayal of Peter’s relationship with his horses. For me, it brought me back to my own relationship with our ponies when I was a kid. Also, the rodents, snakes were all animals I encountered, and so I could imagine a picture in my mind’s eye when you described certain scenes.
Perhaps you are so in tune with boys that age because you raised two of your own, but I thought you really captured that young boy spirit in your book. It certainly was action-packed and I thought of the movie “Forest Gump”. He seemed to be present at so many important points in history. Peter’s experiences were wide-ranging and dramatic too.
Your book invites readers into a different time and into a rural culture, but especially it invites us into the story, which I think is what storytelling is supposed to do. Anyway, thank you! I really enjoyed your work! You tell a good story.-John Braun (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I started reading Lost on the Prairie outside on my deck one Tuesday afternoon last week, and just sailed along on the many surprising adventures with Peter. I forced myself to stop at chapter ten and then spent another delightful afternoon on Wednesday finishing off the journey.
Thank you for letting me experience some of your family’s intriguing history, for sharing your clever imagination, for your beautifully chosen words, and for creating a door into the world of wonderful childhood dreams and adventures. It was so much fun! The story keeps popping up in my mind every once in a while, thinking about how life must have been back then and how threads of other people’s lives intertwine constantly and intricately to weave our families’ histories together. – Glenys Robinson ( Steinbach, Manitoba)