From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–Frostfree, FL, is experiencing the worst of the Great Depression. Pidge, her father, younger brother, and aunt are better off than some since they at least still own their farm and can put food on the table. Without some rain soon, however, none of the orange crops will grow. When one of the farmers sees a story about a "rainmaker," a lady who brings rain wherever she goes, the farmers pool their savings; Pidge's father mortgages his farm to provide the bulk of the money to bring her to town. When she shows up, they discover that she's an elderly, deaf woman whose rain ceremony consists of sitting on a quilt, reading the paper, and eating strawberries. Has the town been swindled, as Doc Wheaton insists? During this same summer, Pidge is dealing with other personal issues, including finding out what caused her mother's death, worrying about what will happen if her father marries the woman he has started seeing, and wondering why she suddenly becomes so flustered when she sees her friend Noah. All the story lines converge at the end to reinforce the theme–accepting change as a part of life, even when one doesn't like it. This story, loosely based on an incident reported in the Orlando newspaper in 1939, provides a good companion to other period pieces set in Oklahoma or California, such as Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust
(Scholastic, 1997).–Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 5-8. For 13-year-old Pidge Martin, the summer of 1939 brings changes and challenges. Her town, Frostfree, Florida, faces its longest drought in 40 years, and if it doesn't rain soon, area families, including Pidge's, may lose their farms. A miracle is in order, and Pidge's father hopes a rainmaker can provide one. Some folks think quiet, elderly Miss Millie's reputed powers are a sham; others need to believe. But as Pidge sees it, what do they have to lose? Pidge's first-person narrative, laced with vernacular, combines descriptive details of small-town, post-Depression life with coming-of-age issues--among them, difficult truths about Pidge's mother, who died when she was young, and changing feelings for her friend Noah. By the close, she has learned about the value of memories and moving forward with life, and about small miracles and acts of kindness. Supporting characters are diverse if sometimes thinly drawn, but Pidge is a well-characterized, sympathetic protagonist that readers will connect with. An endnote gives some historical background. Shelle RosenfeldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved