Saturday, February 21, 2009

FRIENDSHIP WEEK: "The Christmas Angel"

Eight-year-old Melissa travels the Oregon Trail with her most prized possession.


BY: Gayle Jacobson-Huset Assistant Editor
Stories for Children Magazine

BY: Mary Jean Kelso
PUBLISHED BY: Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-933090-58-0
READING LEVEL: Grade School, 2nd – 5th

This book is close to my heart since I used to live in Oregon and loved any and all stories having to do with the Oregon Trail. Both author Mary Jean Kelso and illustrator K. C. Snider also lived in Oregon, so this book is as authentic as you can get in a fiction story.

Eight-year-old Melissa Wheeler and her family travel from Philadelphia to join up with a wagon train in Independence, Missouri that is headed for Oregon. Before leaving Philadelphia, however, Bradford Wheeler informs his family they are only allowed to take one small cherished possession with them on the long trip since space is at a premium in the wagon. Melissa knows right away that she wants to take her porcelain Christmas Angel treetop ornament that her father had gotten for her from England.

One day, Melissa takes the angel with her down to the creek when she brings the family's cow to the creek bank. She sits near the edge of the creek to admire her angel's reflection in the mirror-like surface. Suddenly, she notices another reflection – and it isn't hers! You'll just have to read this delightful book to find out what happens next to Melissa and her beloved treasure!

Author Mary Jean Kelso knows her history, and I found her tiniest details amazing of how life on the trail really was for an 8-year old. Coupled with the very detailed and colorful illustrations of K.C. Snider, this book is right "up there" for a real authentic feel for this period in our nation's history. The end of the book contains a section entitled: "Activities & Info Along the Oregon Trail" as well as something I found quite fascinating, even when I lived in Oregon, a "List of Supplies" the pioneers were requested to purchase before leaving Independence, and also a list of other items that might be found in an emigrants' wagon in this captivating period of western migration. There is also a two-page map of the Old Oregon Trail accompanied by questions the readers might enjoy answering as well as website listings for more information about the Oregon Trail. This is a must-have riveting story for kids today to explore a very important part of our American past.

Available in print, electronic formats and DVD read by the author through,,, Barnes and Noble, Borders,


Mayra Calvani said...

This is a lovely story that teaches children about the Great Oregon Trail. A great, family story to share at Christmas time.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Because it is about the Oregon Trail I think it is appropriate any time of year.