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The Leaves in October

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What will life be like in a shelter for the homeless?

That's what Livvy wonders after her father, "Poppy," loses his job and her mother leaves them.

While their father looks for work, Livvy and her little brother, Younger, get to know the people in the shelter. Some are scary, while some are friendly. Before long Livvy finds a way to earn money to help Poppy buy a home. She can't stop believing in Poppy's ...

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Overview

What will life be like in a shelter for the homeless?

That's what Livvy wonders after her father, "Poppy," loses his job and her mother leaves them.

While their father looks for work, Livvy and her little brother, Younger, get to know the people in the shelter. Some are scary, while some are friendly. Before long Livvy finds a way to earn money to help Poppy buy a home. She can't stop believing in Poppy's promise "When the leaves in October are red and gold, we'll be home."

Then one day Poppy has good news and bad news. Will Livvy have to give up her dreams of living together as a family?

After her mother leaves them, nine-year-old Livvy struggles to understand and forgive as her father loses his job and takes her and her younger brother to live in a shelter for homeless people.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This message-heavy novel attempts to explore the desperate realities faced by a homeless family. Unfortunately, Ackerman ( Song and Dance Man ) consistently fails to move the plot and characters beyond superficial, flawed bibliotherapy. She spins a tale straight out of current newsmagazines: unskilled and undereducated parents wed too young and their marriage cracks under pressure. Here, the unemployed father, Poppy, is left alone with two children, nine-year-old Livvy and five-year-old Younger. Most of the story's action takes place within the walls of the Fourth Street Shelter for the homeless in an unnamed city. While the novel strives mightily for realism, many important issues are never fully addressed. Livvy and Younger live in the shelter for more than five months, yet a social worker doesn't enter the plot until late in the novel, when Poppy considers placing the children in foster care while he takes a construction job. The book's most disturbing aspect is its simplistic ``happy'' ending--a highly romanticized view of what most people would consider neglect. Novels that address the lives of homeless children are needed, but this is not a good one. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Ackerman breaks new ground for younger readers in her poignant story of a homeless family who must come to terms with poverty, dependency, and possible separation. Abandoned by his wife and laid off from his factory job, Livvy's father struggles to provide for nine-year-old Livvy and her six-year-old brother, Younger. Livvy is resourceful and energetic, embarking on a money-making tissue-flower venture to help subsidize their father's promise that they'll have a home by October. Meanwhile, other homeless adults in the shelter resent the children's enterprise and income. Certain episodes are convenient thematic exposes: the confessional letter to Livvy from her mother explaining why she abandoned her family and the schoolteacher turned bag lady whom Livvy recruits to teach the children. Nonetheless, characterizations are strong, and the plot is a well-paced series of setbacks and successes. While other children's novels about the homeless portray independent characters learning to cope, this one presents the emotional distress and determination of a family struggling to stay together when the single parent must go in search of work. Livvy will capture hearts with her sensitivity, tenacity, and courage. --Gerry Larson, Chewning Junior High School, Durham, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440900498
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993

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