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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Like the Willow Tree (Dear America Series) by Lois Lowry

As I am sure I’ve said before, I am a big fan of historical fiction. The “Dear America” series is one that I have recommended to many students; it is an accessible series full of personable characters and it is generally very well researched. This newest contribution has taken its place as one of my favorites in the series. It is due for release next month, January, 2011.

Summary: Despite the Great War being fought by the U.S., Lydia lives a happy and comfortable life with her parents, brother, and new baby sister. An outbreak of Spanish Influenza changes everything, first shutting down her entire town, then killing her parents and baby sister. The two siblings are taken in by their uncle who, pushed by his already large household, takes the two to be raised at Sabbathday Lake, a Shaker community.

The Shaker ways are strange to Lydia at first, and she has difficulty accepting that she cannot talk to her brother as she used to, and that she must give up her belongings as communal property. But she also finds herself surrounded by a new family who accepts her as she is and forgives her occasional bursts of temper. Lydia’s struggles and her growing understanding and acceptance of her new life are realistic and easy for the reader to empathize with.

This story is full of Shaker hymns and info on the Shaker way of life. It also contains some historical facts that I was unaware of; did you know the washing machine and the apple peeler were both invented by the Shakers? As with the other titles in the series, there are historical notes in the back which give more facts about the time period and people in the book.

Age Appropriateness:
Grades 3 & up

Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: none
Violence: none

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