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The Nickel-Plated Beauty: Illustrated Historical Fiction for Teens

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In April 1886, the Kimballs' old stove began to rust away, and they were too poor to buy a new one. But lack of money had made the seven Kimball kids resourceful and independent. Whit, the oldest, ordered a new stove -- the Nickel-Plated Beauty -- C.O.D., not realizing he would have to pay for it. When the stove arrived, it sat in the general store, where it would stay unt In April 1886, the Kimballs' old stove began to rust away, and they were too poor to buy a new one. But lack of money had made the seven Kimball kids resourceful and independent. Whit, the oldest, ordered a new stove -- the Nickel-Plated Beauty -- C.O.D., not realizing he would have to pay for it. When the stove arrived, it sat in the general store, where it would stay until the children could earn the twenty-seven dollars needed to buy it.


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In April 1886, the Kimballs' old stove began to rust away, and they were too poor to buy a new one. But lack of money had made the seven Kimball kids resourceful and independent. Whit, the oldest, ordered a new stove -- the Nickel-Plated Beauty -- C.O.D., not realizing he would have to pay for it. When the stove arrived, it sat in the general store, where it would stay unt In April 1886, the Kimballs' old stove began to rust away, and they were too poor to buy a new one. But lack of money had made the seven Kimball kids resourceful and independent. Whit, the oldest, ordered a new stove -- the Nickel-Plated Beauty -- C.O.D., not realizing he would have to pay for it. When the stove arrived, it sat in the general store, where it would stay until the children could earn the twenty-seven dollars needed to buy it.

30 review for The Nickel-Plated Beauty: Illustrated Historical Fiction for Teens

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Now this - this is a book about living out west, and it's funny and warm. Patricia Beatty is good at kids interrelating within their families and with their friends, and the result is quite the set of circumstances as they scramble to scrounge the $25 needed to pay for a stove for their mother. Mr. Willard, as the storekeeper who won't extend the family the credit for a new store, is just shy of mustache-twirling evil, and he makes a great antagonist. And then there's Aunt Rose, who's a terror, Now this - this is a book about living out west, and it's funny and warm. Patricia Beatty is good at kids interrelating within their families and with their friends, and the result is quite the set of circumstances as they scramble to scrounge the $25 needed to pay for a stove for their mother. Mr. Willard, as the storekeeper who won't extend the family the credit for a new store, is just shy of mustache-twirling evil, and he makes a great antagonist. And then there's Aunt Rose, who's a terror, and Uncle Ced, who decides he won't be bullied anymore, and Miss Jenny, who refuses to be matchmaked (not a word, I know) with anyone. And those are just the supporting characters! I find myself wondering, by the way, what Debbie Reese would make of the portrayal of the Johnsons. Frankly I found it more nuanced than Walk on Earth a Stranger.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Fitzgerald

    A very nice historical fiction, set in 1886 Washington, just before it became a state. It is based somewhat on the author's family history. It will be appreciated by those who enjoy Those Miller Girls! and other books from around the turn-of-the-century period. There are also some similarities to Maggie Rose: Her Birthday Christmas, which I happened to have read shortly before reading this. Like the Constant books, this includes a bit of overt feminism. I'm not sure whether it is anachronistic or A very nice historical fiction, set in 1886 Washington, just before it became a state. It is based somewhat on the author's family history. It will be appreciated by those who enjoy Those Miller Girls! and other books from around the turn-of-the-century period. There are also some similarities to Maggie Rose: Her Birthday Christmas, which I happened to have read shortly before reading this. Like the Constant books, this includes a bit of overt feminism. I'm not sure whether it is anachronistic or not. There's also a subplot involving marital strife and indeed, separation. That seemed a bit unusual for this kind of book. A big part of the plot is children keeping secrets from their parents (more than one subplot). There are also a couple of times when children get involved in the business of adults. I found some of this difficult to believe (especially the part with Uncle Ced confiding in Hester). There are two sequels, or at least related books. I'd be interested in reading both.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    In 1886, in Washington Territory, Hester Kimball's mother is in need of a new stove. Hester's brother, Whitney, who works for the storekeeper, Mr. Willard, orders her one (the "Nickel-Plated Beauty") from the Montgomery Ward catalog without consulting his boss, but is bewildered when the item arrives and it turns out that "C.O.D." means he and his siblings will need to pay Mr. Willard for the stove, and for storage, too, before they can bring it home. Aiming to be able to afford the stove by Chr In 1886, in Washington Territory, Hester Kimball's mother is in need of a new stove. Hester's brother, Whitney, who works for the storekeeper, Mr. Willard, orders her one (the "Nickel-Plated Beauty") from the Montgomery Ward catalog without consulting his boss, but is bewildered when the item arrives and it turns out that "C.O.D." means he and his siblings will need to pay Mr. Willard for the stove, and for storage, too, before they can bring it home. Aiming to be able to afford the stove by Christmas, Hester and Whit and their five siblings secretly begin to take on extra jobs to earn the money to pay their debt. With the support of each other and their kind, but firm, schoolteacher the Kimball kids demonstrate the value of setting and achieving a goal and work to overcome the various obstacles that would keep them from giving their mother this gift. I tend to enjoy books about everyday life, and my favorite historical fiction novels are typically the ones that give readers a taste of what it was like to live as an ordinary person in a certain time and place. This gentle, humorous middle grade novel does just that, and it is a quick and amusing read. The Kimball kids' relationship to each other is mostly very sweet, and their desire to do something kind for their mother comes across in everything they do. The plot also lends itself to opportunities to understand the music that was popular at square dances, to witness some 1880s medical care, and to appreciate the geography of the coastal area in which the Kimballs live and its implications on how people lived their lives. Really only one thing gave me pause. There is an odd subplot involving the children's aunt and uncle, who separate for a time owing to Aunt Rose's domineering personality. Hester inserts herself into that situation, and into at least one more romantic relationship between adults in a way that didn't really ring true for me, and also seemed kind of inappropriate. I'm not sure what the point of it really was, except that it gave Hester something to focus on between chances to earn money. For what it's worth, Hester does also seem to learn that her actions have not been appropriate (but only after she has seen her efforts pay off, of course.) In any case, this is a strong historical fiction title that helps kids to see how childhood is similar across generations and geography. The Kimballs feel real and relatable, and because of that, the historical context becomes more interesting by virtue of the reader's warm feelings toward the characters. I'll gladly have my girls read it around ages 8-10. This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Have not re-read as an adult yet.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    Exceptional is the book that evokes genuine laughter from the entire family. If you're on the hunt for an authentic, humorous, and touching family read-aloud, look no further than The Nickel-Plated Beauty not once, not twice, but at least four times my mom read this book to us. Set in Washington State in 1886, it tells the story of the Kimbal kids, who order their mother a new, shiny, nickel-plated cookstove for Christmas, keep it a secret, and spend their summer and fall working hard to try to Exceptional is the book that evokes genuine laughter from the entire family. If you're on the hunt for an authentic, humorous, and touching family read-aloud, look no further than The Nickel-Plated Beauty not once, not twice, but at least four times my mom read this book to us. Set in Washington State in 1886, it tells the story of the Kimbal kids, who order their mother a new, shiny, nickel-plated cookstove for Christmas, keep it a secret, and spend their summer and fall working hard to try to pay for it. The story is well-written and heartwarming, but I think the number one draw for our family was how true-to-life the siblings and their relationships with one another were. They fought hard, worked hard, played hard. They were so normal and hilarious and predictable. They argued over stupid things. But when they needed to, they pulled together with an unbreakable will to succeed. Through thick and thin we followed this motley crew on their adventures and mishaps. We grew to love each character, and with the rereads came favorite chapters and scenes. My blog: www.oursureanchor.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is a sweet tale with interesting twists and a varied cast of characters. A large family (7 kids!), small town life, working to earn pennies, taking care of each other, entertainment without electronics, and a finale that ends on Christmas. Apparently I read this when I was in sixth grade, but I didn't remember anything about it. Now that I've read it again, I suspect that it was too similar to many of the other stories I was reading at that time. This earns 3.5 stars from me. I think it would This is a sweet tale with interesting twists and a varied cast of characters. A large family (7 kids!), small town life, working to earn pennies, taking care of each other, entertainment without electronics, and a finale that ends on Christmas. Apparently I read this when I was in sixth grade, but I didn't remember anything about it. Now that I've read it again, I suspect that it was too similar to many of the other stories I was reading at that time. This earns 3.5 stars from me. I think it would be a good book to read aloud.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    This is a fun Pacific Northwest book with lots of big-family shenanigans. My mom got it out of the library when I was about ten and told me I would love it; I resisted reading it on principle but ended up really liking it. My favorite bit is when the new stove is delivered COD and the kids realize they'll have to pay for it, and Whit admits that he'd been thinking of it as sort of a free gift from Montgomery Ward. This is a fun Pacific Northwest book with lots of big-family shenanigans. My mom got it out of the library when I was about ten and told me I would love it; I resisted reading it on principle but ended up really liking it. My favorite bit is when the new stove is delivered COD and the kids realize they'll have to pay for it, and Whit admits that he'd been thinking of it as sort of a free gift from Montgomery Ward.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    I loved this book in elementary school, read it many times. I remembered it the other day and found a copy on Alibris for $1 - shipping was 3x that. It was well worth it to re-read. Especially interested in how many phrases have stayed with me verbatim. I must have been in a very impressionable place when I read this initially!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    This is a sweet story about siblings spending most of a year working hard to earn money to buy a gift for their mother. They are willing to do hard and unpleasant things in order to accomplish this. Industry, resourcefulness, and cooperation are promoted. Note on negative content/discussion points: The children lie all the time in order to keep their secret. They sneak onto neighboring property after dark to snoop in the barn. They nearly get shot by the owner. A husband and wife separate after the This is a sweet story about siblings spending most of a year working hard to earn money to buy a gift for their mother. They are willing to do hard and unpleasant things in order to accomplish this. Industry, resourcefulness, and cooperation are promoted. Note on negative content/discussion points: The children lie all the time in order to keep their secret. They sneak onto neighboring property after dark to snoop in the barn. They nearly get shot by the owner. A husband and wife separate after the wife hits him with a frying pan. She is verbally abusive as well. There is a misunderstanding when the husband brings 'another woman' to a dance; she is called a hussy. Men smoke and drink whiskey. A ship wrecks on their coast and an unconscious sailor is brought to the family's home to be nursed back to health; when he wakes, he grabs the visiting schoolteacher and kisses her, later courts her and it is implied that they become engaged. The father lies to the family about some hidden bottles of whiskey he picked up from the shore after the wreck. The main character tries to do some matchmaking throughout the book and meddles in people's business. Some unkind things are said. There are physical fights with the neighbor kids. The main characters accuse the neighbor kids of stealing their hidden money cache and treat them poorly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schlatter

    This was a childhood favorite of mine that I picked up decades ago as a discard from the Houston Public Library. It's very much in the vein of the Little House or Great Brain series --- rural historical Americana with a strong focus on the particulars of daily life. In this case, we read about the Kimball children living on the Washington State coast as they work hard to pay off a stove (the "nickel-plated beauty") that got put on the family's account at the general store. The seven kids, led by This was a childhood favorite of mine that I picked up decades ago as a discard from the Houston Public Library. It's very much in the vein of the Little House or Great Brain series --- rural historical Americana with a strong focus on the particulars of daily life. In this case, we read about the Kimball children living on the Washington State coast as they work hard to pay off a stove (the "nickel-plated beauty") that got put on the family's account at the general store. The seven kids, led by the oldest girl Hester, have to pick berries, dig for clams, and do other assorted tasks to pay off the stove without letting their parents know. There's also the requisite number of side plots, mostly involving romances (where Hester tries her hand at matchmaking). Sadly, I read it now and forget what made it so special to me growing up. But, it's a perfectly serviceable children's novel with a strong historical feel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    When 13-year-old Whit, the oldest of the Kimball family children, mistakenly orders a new woodstove for his mother, he doesn't realize the C.O.D. order means cash on delivery. It is 1886 and he has no money to pay for it. So, with an an agreement with Mr. Willard, the general store owner, the Kimball children, all seven of them work to earn the money to pay for it. All $27 of it! And, while they are earning money, they keep it a secret from their parents. With hard work and ingenuity, they reach When 13-year-old Whit, the oldest of the Kimball family children, mistakenly orders a new woodstove for his mother, he doesn't realize the C.O.D. order means cash on delivery. It is 1886 and he has no money to pay for it. So, with an an agreement with Mr. Willard, the general store owner, the Kimball children, all seven of them work to earn the money to pay for it. All $27 of it! And, while they are earning money, they keep it a secret from their parents. With hard work and ingenuity, they reach their goal by the skin of their teeth. And, mama is shocked at her Christmas present...but, mama has a surprise of her own on this Christmas morning! The Nickel-Plated Beauty takes us on a historical journey where times were tough, but love and respect were everywhere. I don't think this story will appeal to most kids these days, but it surely has some food-for-thought.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hoffman

    Great characters that have appeal and texture.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tawanda

    The book starts out grabbing your attention then moves into character development and I really like that approach.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Ratings

    Stunning detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Potter

    A favorite of mine as a kid who spent summers on the Peninsula, and fun to read to my kiddos who are now familiar with the area. 4.5 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeni

    One of my very favorite read aloud a with kids.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    1886 in Washington Territory. The Kimball family--seven kids plus parents--live on the Long Beach peninsula in the southwestern part of the state. Life isn't easy for a big family without a steady income, and when rust gets into their stove, they know it's the beginning of the end for it. A new stove costs $25, though, a vast sum in those days, and there's no way they can afford it. The oldest boy, Whit, works at the general store, run by the mean-spirited Mr. Willard. When Whit, not understandi 1886 in Washington Territory. The Kimball family--seven kids plus parents--live on the Long Beach peninsula in the southwestern part of the state. Life isn't easy for a big family without a steady income, and when rust gets into their stove, they know it's the beginning of the end for it. A new stove costs $25, though, a vast sum in those days, and there's no way they can afford it. The oldest boy, Whit, works at the general store, run by the mean-spirited Mr. Willard. When Whit, not understanding what C.O.D. means, orders a new stove, it takes all the Kimballs plus their pretty teacher to convince Mr. Willard to hold onto the stove while the kids work for the money. It makes for a tough six months for them, getting up at dawn for clamming on the beach, picking every kind of berry they can find, and helping out the summer folk. Hester, the oldest girl and the narrator, takes on the toughest job by going to work at the hotel in town, run by her mother's termagant sister Rose, who gets every last penny out of her hired girls. Will they ever have enough by Christmas to buy the stove? I loved this as a kid, and still love it today. It's a great book for those who loved the Little House books, with all their descriptions of life in the 19th century, and especially good for Washington State residents who don't often see historical fiction set in our state. The plot is more cohesive than some of Beatty's other books, with several throughlines about Aunt Rose and her browbeaten husband, the neighbor kids who threaten the Kimball's enterprise, and Hester's matchmaking. My only complaint on re-reading is that most of the Kimball kids get short shrift, and are pretty interchangeable except for Hester and Whit. But otherwise, a good, gentle read for lovers of historical fiction.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Volkert

    The "Nickel-Plated Beauty" is one of three companion books by Patricia Beatty set on the Pacific coast of southwest Washington State at the turn of the 20th century. The other titles are "O the Red-Rose Tree," and "Sarah and Me and the Lady from the Sea." When recommending them to students in our elementary school library (in Washington State), I compare them "The Little House on the Prairie" series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In my opinion they are written as well. After reading these books years The "Nickel-Plated Beauty" is one of three companion books by Patricia Beatty set on the Pacific coast of southwest Washington State at the turn of the 20th century. The other titles are "O the Red-Rose Tree," and "Sarah and Me and the Lady from the Sea." When recommending them to students in our elementary school library (in Washington State), I compare them "The Little House on the Prairie" series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In my opinion they are written as well. After reading these books years ago, I took my family on a vacation to the Long Beach (Washington) penninsula where the stories are set and we were able to locate many of the landmarks mentioned in the books. There is the ring of historical accuracy, as well as the cold wet climate of this region. For any students looking for historical fiction from a locale not usually written about, these books are to be recommended. They should appeal to fourth grade students and above. All three of these titles were recommended reading by the Washington State Centennial committee in 1989. I still think they're wonderful and so do the students willing to give them a try! (Written January 30, 2001.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah TheAromaofBooks

    In this historical fiction set along the northwest coast, the Kimball family is poor but happy. When the oldest Kimball child orders a brand-new (and very expensive) cookstove C.O.D., he has no idea that he will be expected to pay for it when it arrives. Through a series of events, the children arrange for the storekeeper to hold the stove until Christmas, giving them all summer and fall to try and earn the money. The rest of the story follows their ingenuity and persistence as they work hard to In this historical fiction set along the northwest coast, the Kimball family is poor but happy. When the oldest Kimball child orders a brand-new (and very expensive) cookstove C.O.D., he has no idea that he will be expected to pay for it when it arrives. Through a series of events, the children arrange for the storekeeper to hold the stove until Christmas, giving them all summer and fall to try and earn the money. The rest of the story follows their ingenuity and persistence as they work hard to earn the stove for their mother. I’ve been reading several of Beatty’s book recently, because I seem to have acquired them at various booksales over the years, but have never really sat down and read through them. While I have decided to pass on most of them, this one was a keeper for me. The family is delightful, and the unselfishness of the children, as they devote all of their spare time to earning money so they can purchase a present for their mother, is admirable and touching. This family seemed more real than many of Beatty’s other characters, and I enjoyed their dialogue and interaction. This book is still a 3/5 for me, but a high 3, and a keeper for my library.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    This is a real romp of a book. Take a large family of kids, confusion over what a Wish Book can do, and a problem solvable by working together and sucking up some discomfort, mix together with some mistakes and stumbles and you get a lot of fun between two covers. Historical details are well-researched, characters are multi-dimensional, and the storyline is engaging.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Not the best book in the world, but just opened it and in my childish scrawl, I had written my name and that it was given to me by my deceased younger sister. So, I have to give it high marks just for sheer sentimentality.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Delightful read--takes place on the Oregon coast.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abra

    Re-read 10/5/13: re-read again 11/13/15

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ava

    This is a fun read about a group of siblings who work hard to earn money to buy their mother a brand new stove.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shwride

    My mother read this to me when I was a child and it was thrilling to me. I found it again a few years ago and it is still a great story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Layla

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary Alice

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Brown

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Aguilar

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