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As Your Child Grows Older

Berger, Barbara. Gwinna. New York, New York: Philomel, 1990.
Having grown a pair of wings and felt the longing for the freedom of the skies, twelve-year-old Gwinna goes to the Mother of the Owls, who sends her on a quest to find the songs of the wind.

Lyon, George Ella. Here and Then. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1994. Gr 5-7
Through ghostly visitation and a diary that seems mysteriously to write itself with twelve-year-old Abby’s hands, a Civil War nurse asks for help with medical supplies across an abyss of 133 years. In the face of her supernatural experience, Abby enlists a friend’s help and musters her courage to send medical supplies back through time. Abby and Harper employ imagination, determination, but also deception to get money for the supplies. They collect money door-to-door for "hurricane relief," which while in the same spirit is not accurate. Abby bravely makes the trip and delivers the supplies. Harper, Abby and her parents make a family trip to a cemetery and Abby discerns that at least one man she met in her ghostly adventure lived 40 years after receiving his wound, possibly as a result of the supplies she delivered. This book is beautifully written and fast moving. Abby’s character is brave, imaginative and determined. With the caveat that I was troubled by her slight use of deception, it is a good read.

Porter, Connie, ill. Melodye Rosales. Addy Learns a Lesson: A School Story. Middleton, Wisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, 1993. Gr 3-5
After escaping from a plantation in North Carolina, Addy and her mother arrive in Philadelphia, where Addy goes to school and learns a lesson in true friendship. A realistic portrayal of triangulations in children’s friendships and the hurt feelings that can result. Addy does realize her mistake, recognizes the value of her true friend, Sarah, and apologizes.

Addy’s Surprise: A Christmas Story. Middleton, Wisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, 1993. Gr 3-5
Addy and her mother forego their Christmas plans to help the newly freed slaves arriving in Philadelphia during the Civil War. Responsible Addy delivers packages for Mrs. Ford on Saturdays. She is determined to get her mother a scarf she sees at a second hand shop, and saves half her tip money (the other half goes to family savings) for it. When the pastor makes a plea for the Freedmen’s Fund to help newly freed slaves, Addy and her mother agree to give their family savings to the fund. Addy contributes her own savings after helping at the pier when the freedmen arrived and after seeing their desperate need. Later Addy ingeniously makes her mother a scarf out of a length of fabric from the hem of a dress she had been given.

Bradford Brown. Happy Birthday, Addy: A Springtime Story. Middleton, Wisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, Inc., 1994. Gr 3-5
Trying to shape a new life of freedom in Philadelphia after having been a slave, Addy finds inspiration from a new friend. This book depicts prejudice in a way that makes it real—the reader can feel how unfair and frustrating it is. Addy does not allow it to diminish her. She maintains hope and lets her spirit sing out anyway.

Addy Saves the Day: A Summer Story. Middleton, Wisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, Inc., 1994. Gr 3-5
Addy and Harriet feud over everything, including fund-raising plans to help the families of freed slaves, but tragedy finally forces them to stop fighting and work together. Addy is a spunky, bright, independent, responsible girl. I do have some concern about the attitude toward soldiers in this book. The city has a parade to honor them, and I am uncomfortable with that glorification of war. Since it is not central to the story, I recommend the book anyway.

Changes for Addy: A Winter Story. Middleton, Wisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, Inc., 1994. Gr 3-5
After the Civil War ends, Addy desperately hopes that her family will be reunited in freedom in Philadelphia. A letter in response to one of Addy’s letters arrives to say that Aunt Lula, Uncle Solomon and Esther passed through a particular Freedmen’s camp on their way to Philadelphia. Addy regularly visits churches and hospitals looking for them. Addy’s determination and persistence pay off. At last, Addy finds Lula and Esther on one of her visits to a church.

Ryden, Hope, ill. Ted Rand. Backyard Rescue. New York, New York: Tambourine Books, 1994. Gr 3-6
Ten-year-olds Greta and Lindsay are best friends who share an interest in rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. In the course of doing so, they learn a great deal about the various creatures they help (as does the reader). The girls are independent, determined and responsible. They are intelligent (arguing their case to a father who is a lawyer) and do research to learn about and determine what each creature needs. When they are told their wildlife rehabilitation work is illegal, they bravely choose civil disobedience in order to protect the animals. The girls have integrity and ultimately find a resolution to the problem. This is an ideal example of a book with strong heroines! First rate!

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. Cat Running. New York, New York: Delacorte Press, 1994. Gr 4-7
When eleven-year-old Cat Kinsey builds a secret hideout to escape her unhappy homelife, she slowly gets to know a poor family who have come to California after losing their home in Texas to the dust storms of the 1930s. Independent and determined, Cat slowly expands her narrow world-view through her association with the Perkins family. She learns of the prejudice they have experienced and begins to understand their predicament. She comes to care about them, particularly the youngest child, Sammy. As Cat’s concern and compassion grow, her judgments fall away and she grows from an envious, petty girl into a generous one, whose final courageous efforts on Sammy’s behalf help save the child’s life.

Thomasma, Kenneth, ill. Eunice Hundley. Naya Nuki Girl Who Ran. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1983.
This story, set in 1801, is based on the true story of an eleven-year-old Shoshoni girl who escaped after being captured with others of her tribe by the Minnetares, a rival tribe. They were forced to march from Montana to the Minnetare village in North Dakota and enslaved there. Naya Nuki escaped and made the return journey alone traveling on foot over 1,000 miles back to her tribe’s camp.

Wojciechowski, Susan, ill. Susanna Natti. Don’t Call Me Beanhead! Cambridge, Massachusetts, Candlewick Press, 1994. Gr 2-4
Five tales in the life of a girl who worries too much, but gradually learns to stop worrying and to have fun. She grows through the course of the book from following her friend Carol Ann’s poor advice to confronting her and choosing for herself by the end. Beany has integrity, learns to stand up for herself and performs cartwheels in the talent show. I particularly liked the characterization of Beany’s parents. They are reasonable, firm, loving and encouraging. A satisfying book.

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