When Charlie and Papa arrive in Lawrence for supplies, they find the bustling Kansas town threatened by border ruffians from proslave Missouri. Papa decides to remain behind with other free-soil settlers to defend the town, so Charlie must drive the wagon back to the family's isolated claim by himself.
At home a different sort of storm is brewing -- gray skies, bitter cold, and vicious winds warn that a prairie blizzard is coming. Charlie is always getting into trouble for daydreaming and forgetting his chores. Now he has to show he's grown-up enough to help Momma, his sisters, and his newborn baby brother survive in their tiny cabin in the snow.