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Houseboat Girl

post written by Emma Filbrun

Houseboat Girl by Lois LenskiTitle: Houseboat Girl
Author: Lois Lenski
Major Themes: Arkansas, Fishing, Houseboats, Mississippi River
Synopsis: Patsy’s family move into a houseboat again after spending a couple of years on land, because they just can’t stay away from the Mississippi River.

My 11-year-old has fallen in love with Lois Lenski’s books. He had me get him all the ones that we could find inexpensively on AbeBooks, and then recently when I offered each of the children a book of their choice as a reward for reading aloud every day for a month, he requested a new book by her. He bought one himself at the same time. Because they are a bit too difficult for him to read for himself (he is dyslexic), I’m reading them aloud, and all the children are enjoying them. We just finished Houseboat Girl. I don’t think I had ever read it before.

Patsy and her family were living in a house on land in River City, Illinois, but her father was a river rat and had to get back on the river. He built a new houseboat for the family, and they pushed off into the great Mississippi River for a year of adventures moving from one fishing spot to another. We enjoyed following their adventures as big sister Milly bought a dress from the mail-order catalog…but they kept moving on before it reached the post office they had forwarded it to—would she ever get it? Patsy loved to help her father fish, and let her chickens forage on the bank, but the day the barge went racing past and nearly sank the family’s collection of boats was a scary day.

Making new friends was a challenge in each new place. At one place where the family tied up, Patsy was sure she would hate the place and badly wanted to move on—until someone threatened to run the family off because he didn’t want competition! Then, of course, Patsy badly wanted to stay, but would they be able to? The solution was quite surprising.

Houseboat Girl is a great story to introduce children to the Mississippi River and the people who live on and near it. Though the plot isn’t that exciting, it draws you in. We love Lois Lenski’s books!

WARNING: Chapter 4, page 56 uses the word gosh. Gee is used in chapter 8, page 109, twice in chapter 9, page 134, and in chapter 11, page 174. Heck is in chapter 9, page 129 and chapter 10, pages 148 and 154. Golly is in chapter 11, page 168.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12


Links to buy Houseboat Girl:

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback


Arkansas, Fishing, Houseboats, Mississippi River

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