HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Snowbound In Hidden Valley
Author: Holly Wilson
Illustrator: Dorothy Bayley Morse
Publisher: Scholastic, reprinted 1970
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Wilson, Holly. Snowbound In Hidden Valley (published in 1957 by Julian Messner Inc.; reprinted in 1970 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc., New York City, NY). Joan (Jo) Shannon lives with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Parnell Shannon, along with her grandfather, Joe Shannon, and her rather opinionated Aunt Maggie in Grandpa’s big, old house at the little town of Henry’s Bend in the upper peninsula of Michigan near Lake Superior. Joe and Parnell own and operate Shannon’s Livery, a transportation company with trucks and busses. There’s a new girl at school named Onota Leroy, and Jo likes her, but Jo’s best friends, Lucille (Boyd) Lacey and Carol and Celia Brown, don’t like Onota because she’s one of the Chippewa Indians from Thunder Bay who bought Grandpa Shannon’s old farm in Hidden Valley back of Mt. Menard. Grandpa lets them park their truck in the Livery when they are in town.
Joe fires a troublesome employee, Henry Jackson, who vows revenge. Then during the worst blizzard in years, the Livery burns and explodes. Jo is injured while watching the fire and put in the Leroy’s truck right before Onota’s dad Charlie and her brother Jim drive it away, and she is thus accidentally taken to their farm in Hidden Valley just as the blizzard stops all traffic. Jim learns through his short wave radio that several people, such as the hired man Cassidy and even Aunt Maggie, claim that the Indians started the fire. But Jo knows that they’re innocent because she’s sure that she saw who did it. Who was that? Will anyone believe her? And how will the Leroys treat her while she’s snowbound in Hidden Valley. Author Helen Finnegan (Holly) Wilson has also written two other good stories about girls, Deborah Todd and Caroline the Unconquered.
While some of its terminology may be considered “politically incorrect” today, Snowbound in Hidden Valley is an excellent model for children who are beginning to get their own opinions about life to show the foolishness of racial or ethnic prejudice and the importance of developing tolerance towards others. The well told story with its drama and realism, language, characters, and even illustrations are remarkable for showing a white girl and an Indian girl becoming friends across class and culture lines in the 1950s. It was in many ways far ahead of its time and preceded much of the white/black civil rights struggle. This adventurous book is a timeless good read.