If You Didn't Have Me

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A young boy tells about the months he and his baby brother spend on the farm, under their kindly grandmother's care, while Mama and Papa build a house in town. Sights, sounds and smells (``He smelled a little funny, like the insides of old gloves'') are evoked with charm and immediacy. Everyday events, from feeding chickens to resting under a tree, are shown to have potentially vast significance to a small boy with imagination and minimal adult interference. Told in short, episodic chapters, this child's-eye view of rural life in Sweden will make a dandy read-aloud. Ages 6-8. (March)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5 A young boy and his baby brother are deposited with their widowed grandmother on a farm in southern Sweden while their parents build a new house in a distant town. In each chapter of this episodic novel, the boy describes an incident in which he interacts with the rural residents. Although beautifully translated, the descriptive narrative and cogent insights seem at times way beyond the capacity of the six- or seven-year old unnamed narrator. The voice of the author seems to be speaking through the mouth of the child; for instance, ``A flock of seagulls screeched mournfully to each other; they looked as though they were pulling the clouds on long, invisible strings.'' Because of the challenging vocabulary and the adult outlook, the intended audience is questionable. Read aloud, the story is appropriate for first or second graders. However, the language, imagery, and sophisticated perceptions could be taxing even for fourth or fifth grade readers, who may be too old to relate to the protagonist. Nonetheless, the evocation of childhood displacement and the imposed need to fend for oneself, the vibrant characterizations, and the vivid descriptions of farm life are positive qualities which give the book its substance. Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689504068
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1987
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.56 (d)

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