Through the Open Doorby Joy N. Hulme
Nine-year-old Dora Cookson does not know why she has never been able to talk like the other Children in her large family. She has never been able to share all the wonderful things she knows...to ask questions...to go to school. Then, on the eve of her family's move from Utah to a homestead in New Mexico, a doctor discovers that a simple operation will allow her to… See more details below
Nine-year-old Dora Cookson does not know why she has never been able to talk like the other Children in her large family. She has never been able to share all the wonderful things she knows...to ask questions...to go to school. Then, on the eve of her family's move from Utah to a homestead in New Mexico, a doctor discovers that a simple operation will allow her to speak.
After the operation, Dora expects to be able to open her mouth and talk like any other child her age, but training her sore tongue requires time, effort, and courage. Meanwhile, life on a 1910 cross-country wagon train is full of excitementtreacherous trails, desert mirages, rowdy fellow travelers, and even a baby born along the way. In quieter moments and while caring for her baby brother, Dora slowly, carefully, teaches herself to speak.
At long last, the family arrives in New Mexico to begin their new life. Dora has found her voice and is ready to embark on yet another journeyfrom silent outsider to speaking member of the community. She can make friends, ask questions, and fulfill her greatest dream: To walk through the open door of the schoolhouse and learn all the wonderful things that are taught in school.
Through the Open Door is based on the true experiences of a girl who grew up on a homestead farm in New Mexico early in the 1900s. Late in her life, she and Joy Hulme became acquainted as members of the same church in California. As they visited together and the real-life "Dora" shared the memories of her childhood with her new friend, they discovered they had much in common. Both had been born to Mormon families in rural communities south of Salt Lake City and had beenreared with the same religious background.
Author Biography: Joy N. Hulme is the author of several children's picture books, including Bubble Trouble and Sea Squares. She and her husband, Mel, live in Monte Sereno, CA.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.74(w) x 8.53(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 9 - 11 Years
Read an Excerpt
Hearing the News
It's awful to be the first one to know the good news and not be able to tell it. No matter how much I wanted to spread the exciting message, a girl who can't talk can't tell.
When I heard Papa explaining to Mama what was going to happen to our family in the fall of 1910, I wanted to let Caroline, Ed, and everyone else know about it. But I couldn't. No matter how hard I tried, I'd never been able to make words come out of my mouth so they could be understood. Every time I opened my lips to speak, the sounds were all mixed up and mushy�more like grunts and groans than speaking.
Because I couldn't talk, I was considered stupid�too stupid to learn. I wasn't allowed to go to school, so I'd never been taught to read or write.
I could usually get what I wanted by nudging the person next to me and pointing to whatever I needed. I used hand movements or facial expressions to make my meaning clear. I drew pictures. I could say yes or no with a nod or shake of my head, but explaining anything was almost impossible. Some words just have to be spoken or the message gets all mixed up. Trying to get my ideas to come out the right way made me feel like a corked-up bottle with yeast growing inside�swollen and tight, ready to explode.
Members of my family were used to the way I was. Mama and Papa loved me deeply and encouraged me to develop other talents. They seemed to take it for granted that my speechless condition was hopeless. Caroline sometimes tried to pretend she didn't know me in front of her friends. Ed was my best pal. He worked hardest to understand me. Other children either ignored or teasedme; adults acted as if I were not there at all. I hated it when a group of gossipy ladies huddled together in a circle at church to feel sorry for me, even when I was close enough to hear what they said. They acted as if I couldn't hear any better than I could speak.
"Isn't it too bad about that pretty little Cookson girl?"
"She can't say a word so you can understand it."
"Sounds like she's got a mouthful of hot mush."
"No wonder they won't let her go to school. What would a poor teacher do?"
I wanted to shout, "A poor teacher would let me listen! There's nothing wrong with my brain!"
It seemed to me that any teacher would be glad to have me. I'd be the quietest nine-year-old in the room. I'd already proved I wasn't any trouble in a Sunday School class.
I should have been entering fourth grade. Caroline was in fifth, Ed was in third, and I was like the middle of a sandwich between them. Even six-year-old Frank had started school and was learning to read.
I hated staying home, especially in the afternoon, when my youngest brothers, George and Howie, took their naps. I always had to figure out something quiet to do while they were asleep. That's why I was playing house under the trailing branches of the weeping willow tree that sunny September day, when I heard Papa talking to Mama on the back porch. While she folded the clean clothes she'd just taken off the line, he told her what was about to happen.
He was excited! Even though he started in a whisper so he wouldn't wake the little boys, his words soon came out louder and louder and faster and faster. I tied my twin handkerchief dolls to a branch, where a breeze would rock them to sleep, and moved quietly to the bottom step to listen.
"Oh, hon," Papa exclaimed, "our prayers are going to be answered at last!"
"How's that?" Mama asked.
"A golden opportunity is knocking at the door," Papa told her. "We're finally going to have a place of our own. Just imagine what it will be like to own a whole farm!"
Papa paused, as if he were considering that idea. I could just imagine the smile on his face.
After a minute or two, he went on. "We've known for a long time that Dad's twenty acres here in Utah can't stretch far enough to divide between all of his children. Sooner or later some of us will have to leave. Well, now's our chance. This is the time."
"And just where is this Garden of Eden that you have in mind?" Mama asked.
"New Mexico," Papa said. "Clovis, New Mexico. There's some homesteading opportunities down there."
"You mean some of that land the government gives away to new settlers?"
"They don't exactly give it away," Papa said. "We'd have to earn it."
"How?" Mama asked.
"By living on it and raising crops," Papa told her.
"I thought homesteading days were over," Mama said. "Isn't all that free land used up?"
"Most of it," Papa agreed. "But some of the Clovis settlers decided not to stay on their farms. They gave up their claims. Now the government owns those pieces again, so they are available for other families."
"How come this golden opportunity happened to knock on our door?" Mama wanted to know.
"Clem Coldwell got a letter from his brother-in-law, who's in charge of the government land office in New Mexico," Papa told her. "John Talbot's his name. He has twelve homesteads to assign and has offered to save them for Clem and his Utah friends. Clem asked me if we'd like to go."
"That's nice of him," Mama said. After a pause, she asked, "How much land is there in a homestead farm?"
"A hundred and sixty acres," Papa told her. "That's eight times as big as Dad's place. Just imagine all that room to grow anything we want�corn, beans, potatoes, and . . ." he raised his voice to make sure I heard . . . "plenty of watermelons for dear little Dora . . ."
I imagined a whole field of my favorite fruit. Rows and rows of fat green melons all ready to cut into smile-shaped wedges. My mouth began to water at the very thought.
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This is such a great book for all ages.. You will love it and its a book you can read over & over ! Its really hard to put down.. :)