As a mother who screens everything her 11-year-old daughter reads, I was really moved by the tale told in "Faith, Hope and Ivy June" by Phillis Reynolds Naylor. We had been following the various news stories about trapped coal miners in various countries, and it had been a challenge for me to communicate the very hard lives they live. Most difficult for me to explain was why anyone would want to risk their lives mining coal, for not very much money at all. This book starts to answer that very complicated question. It's an important book much like "Toby Alone" is important, but in a different way: this book is down-to-earth, as is appropriate for the setting, and makes you think without making you nervous. It would be an excellent addition to any classroom. In the words of said daughter:
"The book, 'Faith, Hope and Ivy June' by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a fantastic book.
"When Ivy June Mosley's name gets pulled out of a coffee can, she is not sure whether to scream from excitement or groan with terror at the fact that a snobby girl from Lexington, Kentucky is coming to Thunder Creek for two weeks after she goes to stay in Lexington for two weeks at *her* house. When Catherine Comb's essay gets picked out of thousands at her school, she just hopes and prays she doesn't seem snobby to Ivy's family when she visits. The exchange program is put to the test when Catherine's mom gets sick and Ivy June's grandpa gets stuck in a mine, and they cling to each other as friends in need.
"My favorite character was really Ivy June because she was more down to earth while Catherine was a little snobby, though I'm sure she tried not to be. I think that this book deserves five stars: one for the characters. one for the realistic setting, one for the plot, one for the humor and one for way the author wrote it like a diary in some parts and third person in others. I would recommend this book to any girl really. It is totally moving regardless of age."