Gr 5-8 The Nebraska prairie was a barren place that offered beauty and peace to some, loneliness and madness to others. Prairie Songs provides a beautifully written insight into this contrast. Louisa and her shy brother Lester live quite contentedly with their parents when the new doctor arrives with his beautiful and fragile pregnant wife, Emmeline. All work to help the new couple adjust to harsh weather, buffalo chips, soddies and Indians; Emmeline agrees to teach the children some reading. After a terrible fright, she goes into premature labor; her baby is stillborn, and Emmeline is reduced to madness. The children notice Emmeline's loneliness and growing madness with sadness, but they accept prairie life for what it is. Conrad artfully deals with all the harsh facts in this fast-paced novel which leaves readers with a real feeling for the difficulties of pioneer life. Children may well appreciate modern medicine and communication, not to mention suburbia, after reading this poignant story.