Katie Down the Pike begins with a preface to set the scene of the story. Father Carlo Gaetano Samuele Mazzuchelli, better known as Father Kelly, was born in Milan in 1806. He became a priest and was in the Green Bay and La Crosse areas of Wisconsin working with the native Americans by 1833. He moved in 1836 to the lead mining district of southwestern Wisconsin and was responsible for the construction of eighteen churches, a courthouse and a state capital. In 1844, St. Augustine Church was built in the town of New Diggings. The church bell bought in New York through local subscriptions, traveled up the Mississippi to Galena. This book is a fictional account of 10 year-old Katie traveling with her father and Mr. Hurley to get the bell. This is a great story of the adventures they encounter.
Overlooking Stoneybrook is a delightful childrens story set in the mining district of southwest Wisconsin at the start of the Civil War. The names of the people are real, and an epilogue to the book tells what happens to them in the war and afterwards. However, the story itself is fictional. The story is about Annie and Jenny, two ten-year old girls and their lives in a dying mining town. The talk of the town is the war and the level of enthusiasm to go to war, especially among the young boys and men.
Ms. McLernon, is a teacher and a member of BIGWILL. She has taken her love of history and written two good childrens book, aimed at 10 year-olds. My 14 year-old daughter, Heather, read both books and said Good stories and real easy for me to read. These books would give your children and grandchildren a flavor for life in early southwestern Wisconsin from the perspective of a child.
Carol McLernon is our speaker for the January 1999 BIGWILL meeting. Come and hear her talk about the process of turning family history into stories to share. She will provide us with an excellent slide show.
Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.5 no.6, 1998