It is 1941, the summer after fifth grade, and Maggie is spending it with her aunt and uncle while her mother rests before having a new baby. Maggie's two biggest problems appear to be getting rid of a wart and trying to figure out Ida Mae, an audaciously different new friend. Soon, however, she detects hints of mystery. What is everyone concealing from her? Why are they whispering her name and hiding family photographs? Are they really her family? This is a pleasurable period piece, punctuated with caring relationships, eccentric neighbors, Buster Brown shoes, and Ovaltine. Like the small town life it depicts, the pace is slow, but picks up as Maggie begins to zero in on the secrets about her own identity. Her genuine distress at the end is reconciled a bit too swiftly, though. Despite its one-dimensional plot, this coming-of-age story about family and friendship provides enough tension to keep readers contemplating clues and awaiting answers to Maggie's mystery. 2001, Eerdmans, $16.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer:Betty Hicks
Some books are easy to read—enjoyable even. The reader cares about the characters, but upon closer examination, there just is not much there. This novel is such a book. Maggie's summer before sixth grade is full of shadows. Hitler is causing trouble in Europe, and the United States still is suffering the Depression. Maggie and her six-year-old brother, Cooper, are spending the summer with Uncle Dick and Aunt Bess. Their mother is at home on bed rest until the new baby is born, and their father is planning the family's move to California. There are other oddities about this summer: the neighbor girl with her psychic grandmother, the boxes of costumes that smell of cigarettes and have mysterious stains, the conversations Maggie's grandma keeps starting and stopping, and talk about the baby. Maggie's story is about finding her place in her family, both literally and figuratively. It is a simple slice-of-life tale that is such an easy read that it is ultimately forgettable. The shadow of war is very faint, the descriptions of scenes are rather colorless, and characters other than Maggie are not particularly well developed. The story provides popcorn summer reading for middle school students who like historical fiction or stories that speculate about being adopted. VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, Eerdmans, 144p, $16. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Beth Karpas SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-A slight and unengaging story about Maggie, 11, who moves in with her aunt and uncle while her pregnant mom and dad prepare to move from Chicago to California. It is 1942; war is imminent. It's soon apparent that something's amiss in the family, and Maggie is not being told what. The small subplots involve an odd girl in the neighborhood and the marriage of another aunt. In the end, Maggie learns that her "aunt" is really her mother. The characters and setting are not memorable enough to grab most readers, and the dialogue is often unnatural and stiff.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.