Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918 (Dear America Series)

Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918 (Dear America Series)

4.1 46
by Lois Lowry
     
 

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Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry brings a brand-new, beautiful diary to the Dear America series!

Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the

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Overview


Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry brings a brand-new, beautiful diary to the Dear America series!

Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers' unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know.

Now separated from her beloved brother, for men and women do not mix in this community, Lydia must adjust to many changes. But in time, and with her courageous spirit, she learns to find the joy in life again.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Eleven year-old Lydia and her older brother Daniel are orphans, their parents and baby sister having all died within hours of each other in the worldwide pandemic of 1918 known as the Spanish Flu. They are taken to the home of their uncle, but there is no room for them and their uncle takes them to the Shaker community called Sabbathday Lake. The Shaker way of life is strange and uncomfortable to Lydia at first and she does not understand their beliefs. To make matters worse, Daniel is not adjusting well and she is not allowed to talk to him. She finds out that he intends to run away and when he does, she determines to find out where he has gone and how he is faring. This book, a part of the "Dear America" series, chronicles the first year of Lydia's new life as part of the Shaker community. The epilogue at the end of the book describes what happened to Lydia and Daniel as adults. The Shakers contributed much to the culture of the United States including many inventions, such as clothespins and a washing machine. The community where Lydia and Daniel lived is one of the few remaining communities in the country. Children and their teachers will both appreciate the wealth of information in this engaging story. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
Kirkus Reviews
"I am desolate," Lydia Pierce declares to her diary on her birthday, Oct. 4, 1918, because the motion-picture houses have been closed due to Spanish flu. In short order, she has great cause for desolation: Her parents and baby sister have all died, and she and her brother have been deposited with the community of Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, where in accordance with Shaker custom they are separated by gender and forced to relinquish their personal possessions. But Chosen Land is a balm to Lydia's spirit, and she adjusts quickly to the rhythms of life there. Working within the confines of the Dear America format, Lowry pens a tender, affecting portrait of a devout community in transition—one tenet of the Shaker creed is celibacy. The Sisters and Brothers emerge a little on the saintly side, but the author endows them with enough humanity that readers will join in Lydia's concern for their continued prosperity. As befits the setting and subject, the narrative is simple and heartfelt, presenting a snapshot of a unique American community. (historical note, photographs)(Historical fiction. 8-12)
Children's Literature - Tiffany Torbeck
The Spanish Influenza spreads across America, and Lydia is worried that she will not get to go to the theater for her birthday. Then, one day, her father comes home from his job as a grocer and becomes ill; soon, Lydia's mother and baby sister become ill also. The next journal entry informs the listener that all three have died. Lydia and her older brother Daniel live with relatives for a while, and then are taken to a Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, where they are raised as Shaker children. Lydia describes Shaker life and how it changes her and Daniel, despite his initial resistance to the community. Barnett has a slow and measured pace and a lovely childlike voice that is perfect for Lydia. No matter the emotion—excited and silly or worried and soft—she captures the tone well. Shaker music often accompanies the story, especially during breaks, and there is also much singing from the characters. Following the story is an author interview, information about Shaker history and more Shaker music. This recording thoughtfully tells the story of the Shaker community and the good work they did for orphaned children. School and public libraries interested in historical fiction that looks beyond war should purchase this recording. Part of the "Dear America" series. Reviewer: Tiffany Torbeck
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Lydia Amelia Pierce, 11, and her older brother, Daniel, are sent to live in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, ME, after her parents die in the 1918 influenza epidemic. Lydia must become accustomed to living, working, and learning with the Shakers and the other orphaned or abandoned children cared for at the settlement. However, Daniel toys with the idea of running away, and does indeed leave for a time. Although Lydia worries about him, her time with the Shakers is marked by a sense of acceptance and appreciation for what she has. Effective use of detail and language immerses readers in Lydia's world, especially her life with the Shakers, making for a standout historical fiction read. The book covers just six months of the children's lives. Lydia grows and changes, but her development is slow and subtle as she learns to let go of her sorrow and appreciate the simple joys in life. Pages of historical notes and photographs at the end of the book provide thorough coverage of the epidemic as well as the Shakers and Sabbathday Lake. These notes are especially helpful in clarifying which parts of the story are real and which are fiction. Readers with a high interest in historical fiction or classes studying early 20th century America, and, of course, "Dear America" fans will appreciate this novel.—Heather Talty, Lower School Library, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545144698
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/01/2011
Series:
Dear America Series
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
344,996
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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