My Face to the Wind: The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher is the twenty-fourth book in the Dear America series by Scholastic. Jim Murphy wrote the book, his second for the series. It was published in October 2001 and was followed by Christmas After All in November 2001.
The story follows Sarah Jane Price, an orphan who decides to become a teacher to support herself.
- "Monday, February 27, 1882
Slept very little, I was so nervous.... Oh, how I wish Father were here to reassure me and quiet my jumpy stomach and say just the right thing. Once, in Pennsylvania, he and I were alone before the first day of classes began. "Every year a new beginning," he said. "Children will walk in here today who can't read or even count. By the end of the session they'll have more in their head than they ever dreamed of. That's one of the rewards of teaching, Sarah Jane. Passing on these skills." My reward isn't so lofty. I am teaching so I can earn money to stay in Broken Bow."
Sarah Jane Price, recently orphaned by the death of her father in October 1881, lives in Broken Bow, Nebraska at Miss Kizer's boarding house. She begins her diary, which she calls "Little Book", in late December. At first, Sarah Jane documents her day-to-day life and reminisces about her father. Later, Miss Kizer announces to Sarah Jane that she will go to live at an orphan girls asylum in Grand Island. Reverend Lauter, another boarder, heartily agrees with the idea.
Desperate to stay in Broken Bow, Sarah Jane decides to become a teacher, after consulting her new friend, Ida Pelham. In the Pelhams kitchen, she gets up enough courage to ask Mr. Gaddis, a member of the school board, about being a teacher. He strongly opposes the idea, even after the school board gives her the job. Later, Mr. Gaddis shows her the schoolhouse, which is a badly built sod house.
Over the next few weeks, Sarah Jane prepares her school with Ida's help and visits the families of her soon-to-be students. Meanwhile, Miss Kizer, who was angry when Sarah Jane went against her plans, becomes cordial with her once again. The first day of school goes by uneventfully, until Alfred Pospisil begins crying, followed by Edwin Hewitt unraveling the American flag, and the disappearance of Carl Huftalen and Fred. Unfortunately, Mr. Gaddis catches Carl and Fred and chastises Sarah Jane.
The following month passes by as Sarah Jane continues teaching, a new boarder comes to live at Miss Kizer's, and Reverend Lauter leaves. In mid-March of 1882, the roof of the school begins to detach, when a snow storm strikes during school hours. Sarah Jane ties her students together and delivers everyone to a safe home, earning praise from the townspeople the following day. The next Sunday, Mr. Gaddis notifies Sarah Jane that a new schoolhouse will be built in time for next year.
- Main article: List of My Face to the Wind characters
- Sarah Jane Price, a fourteen-year-old orphan, who devises a way to stay in Broken Bow by becoming a schoolteacher. She stays at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse.
- Ida Pelham is Sarah Jane's talkative best friend and later student. She encourages Sarah Jane to become a teacher and helps prepare her schoolhouse.
- Miss Kizer, the owner of the boardinghouse that Sarah Jane stays at. She originally planned to have Sarah Jane go to an orphan asylum.
- Main article: Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy (born September 25, 1947 in Kearny, New Jersey) is an award-winning author of nonfiction and fiction books. He has authored over thirty-five books for children, young adults, and adults. The majority of his books are about American history, including two Dear America books and two My Name Is America.
Murphy got the idea to write My Face to the Wind, after viewing a photo of a prairie teacher with her students. He thought that "school must have been an adventure back then."
- Interview with Jim Murphy about My Face to the Wind at Scholastic
- My Face to the Wind Discussion Guide at Scholastic