Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Miss Santa Claus of the Pullman  -  1913
Annie Fellows Johnston
196 pages
genre - Young Adult, Christmas
my rating  -  3 out of 5 stars

William (age 4) and his sister Libby (age 7) have been living with Grandma Neal in Junction.  Their mother "went off to heaven" a couple of years ago and Papa has been too busy to care for them. 

But now Papa has married and the children will be traveling to the city to join their father and stepmother on the train that goes through their town at least once a day. 

The journey was made extra exciting when the train makes a special stop to pick up a young lady.  "She was not more than sixteen...her hair was tucked up under her little fur cap with its scarlet quill, and the long, fur-bordered red coat she wore, reached her ankles. One hand was thrust through a row of holly wreaths, and she was carrying all the bundles both arms could carry."

Miss Santa Claus!  And she tells them a secret: "You must always get the right kind of start. It's like hooking up a dress, you know. If you start crooked it will keep on being crooked all the way down to the bottom..."

I really enjoyed reading this story.  It keep my attention the whole way through.  I could tell that the book was meant to inspire certain virtues in children, but the promptings were subtle enough not be annoying.

About the author  -

Born on May 15, 1863, Annie Julia Fellows grew up on a farm in McCutchanville, Indiana.  Her father, who was a Methodist minister, died when she was only two, but left his influences through his theological books. 

Annie began writing as a girl, producing poems and stories.  She was known to have read every book in her Sunday school library.  She attended district school, and taught a year when she was seventeen.  

Annie attended the University of Iowa for one year (1881-82), then returned to Indiana to teach for three years, and later to work as a private secretary.  She traveled for several months through New England and Europe.

When she returned, Annie married William L. Johnston (a cousin and a widower with three young children.)  He encouraged her to write, and she began contributing stories to periodicals.  William died in 1892, leaving Annie a widow with his children to support.  It was at that time that Annie began her career as a writer.

Johnston wrote The Little Colonel in 1895, and it quickly became a success.  Twelve more volumes of the Little Colonel series would appear over the next thirty years

In 1910, Johnston moved to Pewee Valley, Kentucky, and lived there until her death on Oct. 5, 1931.

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