If the name Betty MacDonald sounds familiar, it’s because she is the author of the beloved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. This title, originally published in 1952, isn’t in that category, but it still has its own charm. Like characters in so many children’s books, Nancy and her sister, Plum, are orphans. Their only relative, Uncle John, doesn’t really know children, so he ships the girls off to Mrs. Monday’s Boarding Home for Children, a place where the girls get little to eat, nothing new to wear, and don’t even receive the few letters and gifts their uncle sends. But Nancy and Plum have spunk, and in the course of the story, they find a way to turn things around, though not without ruffling the feathers of Mrs. Monday and her annoying niece. Old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, this is a return to the stories of authors like Eleanor Estes and Elizabeth Enright. The plot sags in the middle, and there may be too much adult help for contemporary readers, but this has a sweetness to which kids will respond. Grades 3-5. --Ilene Cooper
About the Author
Betty MacDonald was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, Colorado, in 1908. The daughter of a mining engineer, she spent her early years in some of the mining towns of Idaho, Montana, and Mexico. When she was nine, her father took the family—his wife and five children—to Seattle, where Betty lived until shortly after her marriage.
Among her books for children are Nancy and Plum,
originally published in 1952, and the beloved classics Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm,
and Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.
Mary GrandPré is perhaps best known for creating the jackets and illustrations for the Harry Potter books. She has also illustrated The Blue Shoe,
a novel for young readers by Robert Townley, as well as many fine picture books, including Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat
by Jennifer Armstrong and Lucia and the Light
by Phyllis Root. You can read more about Mary GrandPré and her work at www.marygrandpre.com.