Adapted from the memoirs of Elfie May Loverin Minard and Frank Clyde Sheldon Elfie's "Double Cousin " Mary Nelson Keithahn's new book Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier chronicles Elfie's story as she and her family settle in the Midwest.
A historic nonfiction chapter book for readers in grades 3-6 Elfie offers vivid descriptions of life on the American frontier. Questions at the end of each chapter reinforce understanding and expand discussion for young readers.
Watercolor illustrations by Katie Kangas Keithahn's granddaughter beautifully enhance Elfie's story.
Mary Nelson Keithahn a graduate of Carleton College and Yale Divinity School is a United Church of Christ pastor and educator now retired and living in Rapid City South Dakota. She still works out of her home as a freelance writer lyricist and hymnwriter. She has written curriculum and worship resources for denominational and ecumenical use numerous articles for religious journals the book and lyrics for twelve multi-generational musical dramas and over a hundred hymns some of which appear in more recently published hymnals and supplements. Her hobby is genealogy and she is working on a history of her extended family. She also enjoys thraveling in this country and abroad. She writes from a lifetime of experience as a pastor's wife mother and grandmother and as a volunteer in various areas of community life.
"I have read your entire book and I found it to be delightful. I wanted to continue to read chapter after chapter. I think students will enjoy reading it as well.
"I did several readability tests of page 85 67 and 55. It comes up at varying levels but mostly grade 5. This is nice because we teach history in grade 5 so the readability would work out nicely. It would also be a good book for younger children even though it may have to be read to them. It would be a good read aloud book to improve listening comprehension for the younger grades. I believe it will maintain their interest. I also see many opportunities to spring board from for writing exercises.
"The length of the chapters is nice also. A student could easily read and then respond to the text within a reading period. The questions after each chapter were thought provoking and mostly of higher order thinking. Teachers will love that!
"It is also formatted well. A teacher could easily "jigsaw" the text without compromising the story. (It is a reading strategy that breaks the text down assigning different parts to different students.) This strategy would also give students a chance to dialogue with their classmates about what they have read."
- Mari Lu Martens Elementary school principal
"I can see Elfie being a terrific addition to a curriculum unit on pioneer life. When I was the K-5 librarian in two Missouri elementary schools the fourth grades studied Laura Ingalls Wilder in great depth because the family settled in Missouri. I purchased many titles dealing with this time frame and they were popular with the students. Here in Oregon pioneer life especially along the Oregon Trail is a focus and I would imagine the same is true in the other Midwest states studying western migration. There would be a market for this book.
"The questions at the end of the chapters encourage discussion and are relevant to the subject of the chapter. I enjoy genealogy and find the topic of double cousins intriguing. The way in which Elfie is told may encourage youngsters to delve into their own family histories."
- Gail Downs School librarian retired and children's book author
"Elfie is a delightful story of a young girl facing her life in frontier America long ago. Elfie's joys challenges and everyday life will come alive to readers in this chapter book. Mary's use of word pictures and how she wove our American history into each chapter will make it easy for young readers to put themselves in Elfie's place. They will be able to understand and empathize with the hardships and happy times of young Elfie.
"Mary's book Elfie is a loving tribute not only for her close-knit family but also to countless other families that had ancestors that settled our country. This book will make a valuable contribution to children learning about their state history immigration and the importance of families."
- Robin Rohwer-Franson Teacher (grades 2-7) retired
"This heartwarming story based on actual family diaries and letters will delight and interest readers grades 3-6. Each chapter is a story based on actual events that Elfie and her family experienced as they moved throughout the Midwest.
"The charming and beautiful illustrations enhance Elfie's stories.
"The questions in the section "Something to Think About " at the end of each chapter will expand the knowledge of the American frontier for young readers as well as for teachers and parents.
"Mary Keithahn's research into her family's history is an excellent addition to the classroom curriculum."
- Katharine Busch Weiblen Minneapolis Public Librarian retired
"I am so glad that my friend Mary Keithahn sent me her children's book Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier. The stories that make up this book are taken from historical events in the Loverin and Sheldon families. They are not only interesting to read but also inspire curiosity about how our country gradually spread from one coast to the other. I love the illustrations by Katie Kangas beautifully whimsical watercolors that add quaintness and a sense of authenticity to the stories.
"I can't wait for summer to arrive so that I can read the chapters aloud to my two granddaughters at our beach house. The questions at the end of each chapter will help me assess their comprehension and review previous chapters before moving on to new ones. As a former elementary school teacher I know the importance of reading for detail and this book is a beautifully created chapter book that fills that niche. Elfie should find its way easily into school libraries everywhere."
- John Horman Professional educator musician and composer