A Place to Call Home
It occurred to me recently that some of my favorite children’s books are the ones that explore the idea of home and finding a sense of belonging. I think it’s because I moved around a lot when I was a child, and now I relate to those stories of kids being uprooted. I can tell you that it isn’t always easy to be new, but the kids in some of these stories had a lot more to deal with than I ever did.
Grace, in The Secret Hum of a Daisy, is no stranger to being uprooted. She and her mother moved a lot in search of that “hum” her mother always said she would feel when they found where they truly belonged. Now, Grace is in a new home without her mom, and she can’t imagine how it could feel any further from where she would like to be. You may remember that I wrote about The Secret Hum of a Daisy back in December when I listed it as one of my 2014 favorites. It really is a lovely story that I recommend to readers who appreciate gentle realistic stories. (9780399163937. May 2014. Gr. 5-8)
In The Perfect Place, Treasure and her family leave their home in the middle of the night. They don’t pack much, and they don’t even know where they are planning to go. They end up at the home of their Great Aunt Grace. At least Treasure and her sister end up there. Her dad left a couple of months ago, and her mom goes off to find him leaving the girls to follow Aunt Grace’s rules, which include doing their own laundry, helping out at her candy store without eating any of the candy, and spending four hours at church on Sundays. Initially, Treasure can’t imagine any worse places to be. Slowly they all learn to give each other a chance in this warm story that celebrates community in a small town. (9780547255194. November 2014. Gr. 5-8)
Star, in Hope is a Ferris Wheel, has recently moved from Oregon to California, and she doesn’t really fit in at her new school. She is wonderfully optimistic, though, and makes multiple attempts to make friends by starting after school clubs. Meanwhile she is dealing with some confusing family issues with her older sister and the long absent father she hopes to reunite with someday. Readers who love words and poetry will be especially drawn to Star, and it is impossible not to root for her. (9781419710391. April 2014. Gr. 4-6)
Each of these stories left me feeling hopeful and happy, and I hope young readers who enjoy realistic fiction will also appreciate Grace, Treasure, and Star for their optimism and resilience.