I have received a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED review from the Canadian Review of Materials from reviewer Janet Foster. I am just THRILLED. 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 traveled 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.
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 honor book for the Young People’s Choice Award in Manitoba and will soon be available in Germany with Merlin Verlag Publishers.
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.
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)
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 (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 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, 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 school 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)