From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–City-dwelling Ruby exchanges letters with her grandfather, who lives in the country. She shares with him her excitement about the upcoming birth of a sibling and her fears over her father's loss of his job. Her grandfather in turn tells the child about the magpies that live near his house and teaches her The Magpie Song. Through their letters, her ailing Grampa shares his memories of Ruby's father's childhood and reveals a secret to his granddaughter. Then he passes away. Ruby and her family inherit his house and move to the country. Once there, Ruby remembers Grampa's secret: buried in the magpie tree, she finds a chest full of gold coins, ensuring that the family will no longer need to worry about money. This moving tale lovingly expresses the bond between a child and her grandfather. The story is accompanied by watercolor illustrations awash in soft pastels and outlined in pen and ink. Ruby's letters bear childlike drawings while the man's are typewritten. This sweet and tender picture book is good for one-on-one sharing.–Linda Zeilstra Sawyer, Skokie Public Library, IL
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Gr. 1-3. A melancholy but loving exchange of letters between a grandfather in the country and his urban granddaughter ends with the elderly man's death, after which the girl, Ruby, discovers treasure he had hidden for her. Ruby finds the much-needed treasure, hinted at early in the story in a tiny letter covered by a flap,^B thanks to the magpies that were so dear to her grandfather. The fairy-tale ending feels jarring after the sadness of the story, in which the grandfather becomes increasingly ill, Ruby's father appears to be depressed, and the family receives an eviction notice. The pencil-and-watercolor pictures temper the sadness, though, as they take children through the seasons, supplying numerous details (Grandfather's dog, the girl's toy panda, and myriad bicycles) to look at in sweeping spreads of the city and the countryside. Kathleen OdeanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved