- ""One spark in the right place, and whoosh!" The cabbie snapped his fingers. "The entire city could go up in flames. If you ask me, but nobody ever does, we're sitting in a tinderbox.""
- —An ominous prediction
Down the Rabbit Hole: The Diary of Pringle Rose is a historical fiction book written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. It is the forty-second book in Scholastic's Dear America series. The book was published in March 2013 with Judy Blundell's A City Tossed and Broken.
- "In memory of Sal Angelo (1947—2010), an exceptional person in every sense of the word"
- "My name is Pringle. This is my story....
In the spring of 1871, fourteen-year-old Pringle Rose learns that her parents have been killed in a terrible carriage accident. Shortly afterward, her uncle Edward and his awful wife, Adeline, move into Pringle's home—making life for her and her younger brother, Gideon, unbearable. Pringle runs away with Gideon to Chicago, seeking refuge from the tragedy and hoping to start a new life. However, she quickly finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and lies. And when a familiar figure from back home arrives, Pringle begins to piece together the devastating mystery of what happened to her parents and realizes just how deadly the truth might be. But soon, one of the worst disasters this country has ever known—the Great Fire of Chicago—flares up, and Pringle is on the run for her life."
Pringle Rose is the daughter of Franklin, a wealthy mine owner. In April 1871, she loses her father and mother in a tragic carriage accident. Her brother, Gideon, who survived the crash, has not spoken a word since. Their uncle Edward is appointed guardian and moves into their house with his wife Adeline and daughter Ellen. Pringle's aunt is extremely strict with her and Gideon, but overindulges Ellen. Adeline is particularly cruel to Gideon, whom she does not understand due to his Down syndrome.
Adeline plans to send Gideon away to a school for children like him. The housekeeper Mrs. Goodwin warns Pringle about the risks of sending Gideon to such a school. Pringle decides to run away with her brother to Chicago. She plans to find her mother's best friend, Beatrice Ringwald. On the train to Chicago, Pringle records her plight in a diary. She befriends a fellow passenger Gwen Pritchard, who has a hard time wrangling her three children, Adam, Lucy, and Sallie. Along the way, Gideon starts to speak again and becomes friends with Adam.
Near their destination, a bent axle causes their train car to disengage and fall over. Pringle and Gideon are safe, but they lose their cat Mozie. They soon reach Beatrice's house in Chicago, where they learn she was placed in a sanitarium. Nowhere else to go, Pringle asks Gwen and her husband Peter for a place to stay. The Pritchards welcome them into their house and hire Pringle as a nursemaid for their children. Peter, a union organizer, also has Gideon do odd jobs at his office.
Gwen begins preparing for the arrival of her younger brother, Cager. When he arrives in October, he turns out to be a boy Pringle knew as "Rabbit". Gideon runs away upon seeing him. Pringle demands to know if Cager was involved in her parents' deaths. She leaves immediately, when he confirms it. As the Great Chicago Fire rages, Pringle desperately searches for Gideon. The next morning, she finally finds him at Peter's office. They then board a train to San Francisco.
- Main article: List of Down the Rabbit Hole characters
- Pringle Rose, the daughter of a mine owner. Following her parents' deaths, Pringle lives with aunt and uncle. She eventually decides to run away to Chicago with her brother, Gideon.
- Gideon Rose is the younger brother of Pringle. He has Down syndrome, which sometimes causes others to misunderstand or mistreat him. Gideon stopped talking after his parents' accident.
- Main article: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Susan Campbell Bartoletti (born November 18, 1958 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) is a Newbery award winning author. Her first picture book, Silver at Night was published inn 1992. Campbell Bartoletti also wrote A Coal Miner's Bride (2000) for Dear America and The Journal of Finn Reardon (2003) for My Name Is America. In 2013, she returned to the Dear America series with Down the Rabbit Hole.
In contrast to her A Coal Miner's Bride, Down the Rabbit Hole is about "the daughter of a wealthy mine owner who railed against the workers’ attempts to unionize and strike for better wages and living conditions". Pringle's character was also inspired by 1 Chronicles 4:10 in the Bible. Campbell Bartoletti based Gideon on a family friend, Sal Angello.