Though worlds apart, city girl Mariel and Brick, a farmer's son from upstate New York, have a lot in common. They're both strong-willed, fiercely independent, and fervent Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Their divergent paths merge when Brick's family's orchard is destroyed by fire, and his parents send him to stay with Mariel and her adoptive mother in 1941 Brooklyn. Though excited by the chance to see his beloved baseball team play in person, Brick can think of little else but getting back to Windy Hill and saving what's left of the apple trees. Unexpected help comes in the form of Mariel, whose big heart cannot always overcome the weakness of her polio-stricken legs. Determined to help Brick and discover the identity of her birth mother, Mariel finds a way to get them both to Windy Hill--where Brick's trees and the hospital where Mariel was born await--one shaky step at a time. Author of the much lauded Lily's Crossing
, Patricia Reilly Giff has written another lovely work of historical fiction that perfectly evokes a long-past time and place. Here, we can't help but smell Brick's apples and hear the cheers of hopeful Dodgers fans in Ebbets Field. A wonderful story of friendship and personal triumph for the preteen set. (Ages 9 to 12) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
Newbery Honor novelist Giff (Lily's Crossing) brings together two appealing young characters in this story of friendship, family and finding where one belongs. When fire destroys the apple crop on his family's upstate New York farm in 1941, Brick's parents must find work elsewhere and send their son to live temporarily in Brooklyn with Loretta, an old friend. Loretta, a nurse, years before adopted a young polio victim, Mariel, whom she had cared for in a hospital located near Brick's family's farm. Though she loves Loretta, the girl is determined to find her birth mother, of whom she has faint memories. Mariel is drawn to the likable Brick, yet initially her embarrassment at her polio-scarred legs (which, in her mind, "curved like the pretzels in Jordan's candy store") prevents her from talking to him. But when he shares his resolve to return home to help a beloved elderly neighbor harvest his apple crop, Mariel encourages him to make the journey. Impulsively, she decides to accompany him and to visit the hospital where she was taken when stricken with polio, hoping to find clues to her mother's identity. The pieces of the plot snap together a bit too easily and snugly as Giff solves each youngster's dilemma. More credible is the emotion that runs high and affectingly throughout the narrative, as well as the many period details. Ages 8-12.
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