Erik never wanted to leave his grandfather's farm, and the memory of his dead father, in Norway. But in Canada his family can have their own farm, so Erik, his mother, and his older sister Elsa journey to the Canadian west with Rolf, their mother's new husband, Rolf. Rolf is a hard man to talk to and even harder to get to know. And he's keeping a secret from his new family. Erik does a man's work, helping Rolf break land and build a sod house. Rolf's brother and his son Olaf live in the nearby town. Olaf looks a lot like Rolf, but for some reason won't talk to him, and seems to resent Erik as well. The boys start to get along through their shared efforts to save Tapper, an injured horse. Tapper gets well enough to be entered in a local horserace and turns out to be a real winner. "Tapper" is the Norwegian word for "brave," and Erik really must be "tapper" to face all the challenges of his new life and be a winner himself.