Kirsten and the New Girl

Written by Valerie Tripp, illustrations by Renee Graef and Kim Lewis


Kirsten's been sick with measles, but is finally well enough to go back to school. She catches up to her cousins and overhears them talking about the new girl at school who's doing so well despite having just moved to Minnesota. Kirsten assumes they're talking about her, but after she surprises them with her return, she quickly realizes, much to her embarrassment, that there's a newer girl, Nora. She's just come from Norway. This initial embarrassment probably contributes to Kirsten's dislike of Nora. Well, not really of Nora herself, but of being displaced. Kirsten was expecting her friends to be excited about her being back, but they're busy with the novelty of Nora.

The next day, Kirsten walks slowly to school, partially because she's still weak from her illness, but more because she's not looking forward to everyone fawning over Nora. Because she's walking slower, Kristen happens upon Nora hiding in the brush. It turns out that Nora is very shy, and overwhelmed with all the attention she's been getting. She also suspects it's not sincere; that the students are being nice because the teacher told them to be. She wants to go home to Norway. Kirsten remembers how difficult it was for her at first, and reassures Nora. The two bond quickly, and continue to the schoolhouse. And we never hear about Nora again.

Looking Back

In the mid-1800s, it was common for friends to exchange small gifts. For young girls on the edge of the frontier, these were often small handmade tokens. They ranged from tiny bouquets of wildflowers to delicate shapes cut out of paper to elaborate gifts like friendship quilts. 


Nora from Norway. Funny.

Measles and cholera: two diseases featured in Kirsten stories that are far less prevalent today than in the past. Definitely something to be happy about.

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