Baby in a Basket by Gloria and Ted Rand did me in. Okay, so I "fought back tears", not cried, but nonetheless: my poor aching mama's heart. Yeeeouch!
Using a true story from 1917 Alaska, the Rands have created a perfect marriage of text and illustration. Traveling from Fairbanks to Seattle in midwinter, Marie Boyer and her two daughters, Betty and Ann, are among passengers and freight tossed into an icebound river when the horses pulling their big sleigh panic. Betty is pulled under the ice and Ann, in her snug basket, vanishes in the Arctic dark. Rescued, Betty and the other passengers are comforted at a nearby lodge while a desperate search is mounted to find Ann. At the last moment, two trappers arrive to a joyous reception, carrying basket and baby Ann, discovered sliding down the river atop the ice, pushed by the freezing wind.
Gloria Rand's detailed, dramatic text is well matched by Ted Rand's robustly wintry illustrations, and presents the hardships faced by Alaskan pioneers in a manner comprehensible to the young. Almost unbelievable in these days of jet planes and superhighways, this gripping tale of near tragedy will enrich a social studies curriculum. Even more, though, it's an exciting "good read."