A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt

( 1 )


Set during the Depression in 1933, and based on a true story, a young girl is determined to find a way to help her father save their house from foreclosure.

Eleven-year-old Margo fulfills a class assignment by writing a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for help to save her family's home during the Great Depression.

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Set during the Depression in 1933, and based on a true story, a young girl is determined to find a way to help her father save their house from foreclosure.

Eleven-year-old Margo fulfills a class assignment by writing a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for help to save her family's home during the Great Depression.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author De Young uses her own family history to create a Depression-era story about first-generation Italian-Americans living in Johnstown, Pa., in 1933. Eleven-year-old Margo Bandini, her parents and young brother, Charlie, face losing their house if they do not find a way to pay back the bank loan used to cover hospital expenses for Charlie's emergency leg operation. In a letter, Margo appeals to Eleanor "Everywhere" Roosevelt, the person she admires most, for help. Her teacher (who moonlights as a reporter and knows the First Lady) provides a swift, personal delivery of the letter and soon Margo receives a reply that restores her faith in miracles and resolves the crisis. Despite its rather contrived conclusion, this historic novel is successful in conveying the climate of the times: the "domino" effect of the steel mill cutting back workers' hours translating into failing businesses and the necessity of neighbors relying on one another for support during hard times. Margo emerges as an admirable heroine whose actions reveal a generous heart and determination to help her family hold on to their home. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Children's Literature
Stories with happy endings are always heartwarming, but it's an additional bonus when they are based on fact. This story takes place in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1933. Margo lives there with her parents and brother. Her father has a shoe repair business. As the economic hard times filter down through the community, Margo's father gets less and less money for the work he does. He is a kind man who lets his customers pay what they can, and his family suffers. Finally, because they can not make their mortgage payments, the bank starts proceedings to repossess their home. At school, Margo is given an assignment to find a newspaper article about someone who has inspired others about the prospects for a brighter future. Margo has always admired Mrs. Roosevelt and decides to write to Mrs. Roosevelt and tell her about their family dilemma. Mrs. Roosevelt did respond with help. The real life rescue came from the New Deal relief program--the Home Owners Loan Corporation. 1999, Dell Yearling,
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This Depression-era story is rich with the details of life in the small mining and steel town of Johnstown, PA. When her family is threatened with losing their home and business because they are unable to pay their bank loans, 11-year-old Margo Bandini writes a desperate letter to Mrs. Roosevelt as part of a class assignment. Margo has read about the First Lady's interest in children and her visits to people all over the world and hopes that the woman might find a way to save her home. With a little help from Margo's teacher, who is also a newspaper writer and a friend of Mrs. Roosevelt's, the letter gets the attention of the First Lady, who then arranges with the bank to refinance the family's loan as a part of the New Deal relief program. The outcome of this plot may seem outlandish, yet this novel is based on events that actually occurred in the author's family. The strong and believable female characters, the smooth integration of historical facts into the story, and the compelling first-person narrative make this a good choice for social-studies reading, historical-fiction assignments, or book discussion.-Joan Zaleski, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Kirkus Reviews
De Young weaves this heartwarming Depression-era episode around a true family story. When Margo Bandini, 11, learns that her family is about to lose their home, she takes advantage of a class assignment to write a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, enclosing her father's medal from WWI and asking for help. Writing in a smooth, unornamented style, the author fleshes out the tale with an extended hunt for Margo's missing little brother Charlie that teaches her not to prejudge the hoboes who pass through town; provides a light dusting of background information about the Great Depression's causes and effects through Margo's reading of newspapers; slips in a surprise-Margo's fifth-grade teacher, Miss Dobson, and her favorite journalist, E.D. Kirby, turn out to be one and the same; and ends on a happy note-the Bandinis get to keep their house after the local bank manager gets a call from the White House. The plot turns in plausible directions, and readers will find amiable characters here, as well as a clear picture of the time's anxieties and hardships. (Fiction. 8-11) .
From the Publisher
"[A] heartwarming Depression-era episode around a true family story."—Kirkus Reviews

"This historic novel is successful in conveying the climate of the times. . . . Margo emerges as an admirable heroine."—Publishers Weekly

"Based on a true family story, this novel . . . creates a strong sense of place and time, when the Depression was felt up to the front porch of a loving family home."—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756914929
  • Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Pages: 105
  • Sales rank: 1,105,389
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

C. Coco De Young grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Her father's family home was saved with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    Great book

    I used to live to Mrs. Coco De Young parents in Johnstown, PA. I picked up this book and read it in one day because it was so interesting to read something about our home town. Most of it took place in the Woodvale section of Johnstown where my grandparents were from so it was very interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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