Kirsten Saves the Day

Written by Janet Beeler Shaw; illustrated by Renee Graef

Published in 1987


June continues, the days lengthening into summer as July comes. While out fishing with her brother Peter, Kirsten finds a bee tree full of honey. Imagining all the wonderful things they could trade the honey for, Kirsten decides to bring it back on her own as a surprise for the family. Unfortunately, a bear seems to be scoping out the tree as well. Despite Peter's insistence that they should just tell their parents, Kirsten barges ahead. Predictably, a bear cub shows up while they're trying to get the honey, and Peter's dog Caro harasses it, bringing its mother out of the brush. The dog is knocked aside, and Kirsten and Peter quickly scale a tree. Fortunately for them, the bears quickly retreat, and the dog alerts their father to their predicament. He comes with his gun in case the bears are still around, and chastises Kirsten for putting herself and her brother in danger, not only from the bear--which she knew was around--but also from bee stings. Instead of just taking the honey, he starts his own beehive back at the farm.

Even with keeping some honey for their own use, the family has enough to sell when they go into town on Independence Day that they have money left over after getting necessities. Without the honey, Kirsten's parents say they might not have been able to get the necessities (they also traded jam, chickens, and other things). As a thank you for finding the bee tree, Kirsten is allowed to pick one thing for herself, and Peter is too. Kirsten gets a more sensible hat (a straw bonnet, as her cotton one was too hot for summer), and Peter a jackknife so he can learn to carve like his big brother and sell the carvings like Lars does.

Looking Back

This time, the focus is on the difficulty of eking out a living on the frontier. The forest often stood in the way of crops, and wild animals were always around. But the forest and animals also provided food. The children often foraged for berries and mushrooms and nuts, and older boys and men could hunt. And it wasn't hard work all day long: children could pause along the way and play in the forest or streams.


Again this book is dedicated to Nadina Fowler and autographed.

The book puts July 4 on a Tuesday, as it was in 1854.

The new baby has a name now: Britta.

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