This book is set in 1918-1919, right after WWI. It has 217 pages and 30 chapters. Not difficult to read and honestly does not seem long enough when you get involved in it. This book is not slow-moving and overall excellent.
When Annie's father, a doctor, returns home from the war, he decides to work at the hospital. Annie's mother tells her to stay away from the hospital, but Annie disobeys while her mother is on vacation and goes anyway. While there, she becomes acquainted with a burn patient named Andrew who has become bitter and withdrawn. When her mother returns, she gives Annie permission to continue to visit the hospital. Annie helps Andrew realize that he can still find joy in a new life. I would not recommend this book for children under 9.
I think this book is very good because it is filled with so much love, joy, and laughter that it fills my heart with warmth to read it. Hannah's Fancy Notions is about a young girl (age 10) named Hannah who starts making band-boxes (a type of suitcase) for the working girls of Industrial New England. She enlists the help of her family as the simple matter of making a band-box for her working sister's birthday ends up being a full-time operation making band-boxes for everyone she knows and doesn't know! (The band-boxes were originally made to substitute for poor looking bags that the working girls tried not to have people see.) Let the warmth spill into your heart as you read this lovely, well-written book.
Note: This book is part of the Once Upon America series.
Every place has a story. The photograph above is part of the story of my place. These are my momma's people. The man in the center is my great-grandfather McGee. To the left is my great-grandfather Scalf. Reclining on the log is my grandfather Scalf. The woman standing in the door is my great-grandmother Scalf and the girl inside the cabin is my Aunt Nadine who is now nearly 90. My people are Appalachian Mountain people, born and raised in the mountains of upper East Tennessee. They were poor, hard-working folks like all those in the hills and hollers. They were uneducated by our culture's current standards but had a grit and determination (as well as common sense) rarely seen today.
My place is known as "Over Home." Even though my parents moved to the other side of the mountain after they married, our roots still run deep there. I still live in the little town on the other side of the mountain and "Over Home" is just a short distance away.
In honor of my place, I thought I'd share some titles that tell its story, or at least the story of area locations whose story is similar. These are favorites from my own shelves but if you are interested in learning more about these people you can check out this incredible list. I see many here I will be adding to my collection.
Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla is an early reader about a boy growing up in rural Tennessee during pioneer times. My parents and grandparents grew up much like this and I spent many 'a night in my grandparent's cabin around the pot-bellied stove, sleeping my my granny's feather bed, even until the 1970's. This is a Five in a Row title.
Journey Cake, Ho by Ruth Sawyer is a fun tale. Hard times and a great chase brings Johnny home again.
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs is a rollicking tall tale of Appalachian life.
Down Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle is yet another Five in a Row title relating life for folks living in the Appalachian mountains.
My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston is the delightful true story of this beloved teacher in one-room schoolhouse in the mountains.
Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston - another Five in a Row gem. Amber wants to learn to read. Finally she gets a friend and her heart's desire.
Dolly Parton is a world-renowned country music star whose humble childhood in these hills is chronicled in her music. Her song, Coat of Many Colors, which tells of her mother sewing a coat for her of fabric scraps, was beautifully illustrated in this tender volume.
I have fond memories of Christmases past spent with family Over Home. In order to provide her children with a Christmas, my granny would gather walnuts, crack them and sell them to get enough money for a stick of candy, maybe an orange and a small gift. A few precious books relate these hard yet joyful holidays.
William O. Steele was a prolific Tennessee author and many of his titles relate the history of this area.
Christy by Catherine Marshall is a beloved story of a woman who leaves her home to teach in the Smoky Mountains.
The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman is a lesser known but equally excellent book telling of the harshness of Appalachian life post War Between the States for older readers.
Daughter of the Legend by Jesse Stuart - My best Over Home friend, Deb, introduced me to Stuart's writings. This book tells of the mysterious people known as the Melungeons. This book takes place in my daddy's home county. Because it is presented as a romance, I recommend it for older readers.
Many of the people of this area, including myself, are descended from the Scottish Covenanters who endured tremendous religious persecution in their native land. Many of them fled to America and settled in this area. A few titles that tell their story are:
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains is home to more species of salamanders than anywhere else on earth? You can learn more about them in The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball by Lisa Horstman.
The Tennessee mountains is also home to many black bears. The Moon of the Bears by Jean Craighead George tells their story.
Counting on the Woods by George Ella Lyon is a unique counting book which reveals the flora and fauna of Appalachia.
A Water Snake's Year by Doris Gove - Water snakes are native to the Smoky Mountains so if snakes are your thing, you might enjoy this.
Mountain people were known for their stories told on front porch swings and under shade trees. I remember the stories my granny would tell me on cold winter nights or while breaking beans of haints and goblins, legends, and of times long past. Here are some literary choices.
Reference The Foxfire Books series is a marvelous chronicle of life in the Appalachian mountains. These books are almost always checked out in my library, especially by those who wish to resurrect these long lost skills.
These books and many others tell the story of my place, the people who lived here, the hardships they endured and braved, and the laughter they shared. I hope you will discover the story of your own place. The diversity of the cultures of the world, past and present, makes for a plethora of great literature. In this transient culture when people are moving from location to location, we all need somewhere to put down roots. Somewhere to call our own. Our own "Over Home."
I am joining the rest of the world in wishing Beverly Cleary a happy 100th birthday!
I remember as a young girl receiving my copy of Ramona the Pest from the Scholastic flyers that went around our classroom each month. Ramona Quimby was a girl much like myself. I read that book so many times it became worn and tattered. I still have that well-read book on a special shelf reserved for such treasures, my name childishly scrawled inside the cover. I recall being so disappointed that my name didn't have a Q so that I could draw kitty cats from it!
As my boys have grown, they have all enjoyed many of her titles. I think Mrs. Cleary must have remembered what it was to be a child because her books have been enjoyed by children for many decades.
Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for enriching our lives with fun, humor and adventure.
When we moved into our current home several years ago, I was very unhappy. It was a nice house on a lovely piece of property with a one-acre pond and 12 acres of lush grass. However the home we left was built by us. I chose the house plans, made changes in the floor plan to suit our family, chose paint, flooring (oh, how I miss my Brazilian cherry floors.) This new house did not feel like home to me. It was someone else's idea of what a home should be. It wasn't until I brought in those unique touches that were meaningful to our lives that I could really say I belonged there. Now I am part of this place. I have taken up residence.
It is the same with the books we read. These books were written by another person, probably living in another time or place. We may have nothing in common with them except for their words. But when we bring to the book our own unique touches, the experiences of our lives that set us apart, the ideas take up residence in us and become part of us.
Ideas are powerful things. They are not, in and of themselves, tangible. They are not something we can see, smell or taste. But they can change lives and change the world far more than those tangible things we put so much stock in can do. The volatile thing about ideas is that they are unique to each person. Each time I read a book, I bring to the table my own life, experiences, presuppositions. Those ideas mix and mesh with those of the book and become my own in a way unlike those of anyone else who has ever read that book...my own personal culture.
The same is true for books shared with family. My family has shared so many books together. We each make our own connections in the reading because we are all distinct individuals. But in living with the book together it becomes part of our family's identity. It becomes casual discussions around the dinner table, knowing eye contact across the room, shared reminisces even years later...a family culture.
Ideas are so influential, however, that we don't even have to share the same book to be changed by them. Often when my oldest son comes home to visit, we inevitably get into an informal discussion, usually spawned by world events or something much less lofty, about something he has read but we haven't. As we discuss the ideas in a book that the other hasn't read we are stretched beyond our own personal experience. That, again, becomes part of our personal and family culture and ripples its way into the culture at large.
There is so much to be gained by reading. The ideas that take up residence in our hearts are the most life-changing reasons to pick up a book.