Books by Patricia MacLachlan

WONDROUS REX by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 17, 2020

"Sweetly magical. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Seven-year-old Grace knows a great many words, but she can't bring herself to string them together on paper. Read full book review >
THE HUNDRED-YEAR BARN by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 10, 2019

"A cozy filter through which to imagine growing up. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Known for animating America's past for young readers, MacLachlan here imagines a community barn-raising from a century ago. Read full book review >
DREAM WITHIN A DREAM by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 7, 2019

"This book clings to the heart and echoes in the soul for days. (Fiction. 8-12)"
A kiss on the palm is at once simple and full of emotion, meaning, magic, and…wonder. Read full book review >
CHICKEN TALK by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 15, 2019

"A sweet, silly, and slightly surreal celebration of individuality and connection. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A series of mysterious messages yields surprising insights for this farm family. Read full book review >
MY FATHER'S WORDS by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

"Simple words make a flawless story about resilience, hope, healing, and the eternal fitness of things. (Fiction. 8-12)"
When a freak accident kills their father, Declan, the O'Brien family must discover how to heal. Read full book review >
BARKUS DOG DREAMS by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 7, 2018

"A solid entry in an entertaining series foreshadowing more adventures for the trio of Barkus, Baby, and Millie on the horizon. (Early reader. 4-7)"
Newbery Medalist MacLachlan continues her series of early chapter books with this second offering about Barkus the dog, his feline companion named Baby, and the child who owns them, Nicky. Read full book review >
LITTLE ROBOT ALONE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 12, 2018

"A book to cherish for years to come. (Picture book. 4-6)"
What do you do when you're all alone? If you're a robot, you make your own friends! Read full book review >
JUST DANCE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

"A quiet tale about finding your own voice. (Fiction. 8-11)"
A gifted wordsmith wonders if her opera-singer mom misses her career. Read full book review >
SOMEONE LIKE ME by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 4, 2017

"An inspiring choice for fertile young minds trying to find their voices by seeing the world around them. (Picture book. 4-8)"
When does someone truly learn the gift of writing and storytelling? Newbery Medalist MacLachlan takes her trademark elegant writing to the picture-book level with this semiautobiographical charmer. Read full book review >
BARKUS by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 6, 2017

"Nicky, Barkus, and Baby the kitten will appeal to fans of the Henry and Mudge series as well as to the younger picture-book audience. (Early reader. 4-7)"
A child grows to love a new canine companion in this initial offering in a new series of early chapter books by Newbery Medalist MacLachlan. Read full book review >
THE POET'S DOG by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"A quiet, elegant, poignant story suffused with humor, heart, and goodness. (Fantasy. 6-12)"
An unusual dog rescues two children from a storm. Read full book review >
THE MOON'S ALMOST HERE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 7, 2016

"A beautiful but minor effort from two immensely talented creators. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A parent-child pair observes the coming of night and the reactions of various (mostly domesticated) animals and their offspring. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"Glorious. (biographical note, artist's note, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)"
If indeed the "child is father to the man," Newbery medalist MacLachlan's poetic, careful and concentrated text captures the essence of Matisse's childhood experiences and draws powerful parallels with his later life and work. Read full book review >
FLY AWAY by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 8, 2014

"A story that never cloys, succeeding on all levels. (Fiction. 6-10)"
Filled with little moments of quiet wisdom and gentle humor, Newbery winner MacLachlan's story about family love soars. Read full book review >
SNOWFLAKES FALL by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 29, 2013

"MacLachlan and Kellogg celebrate the small things, but the small things turn out to be the big things after all: the children, 'No two the same— / All beautiful.' (Picture book. 4-7)"
Falling snowflakes highlight the beauties and joys of winter in this celebration of the uniqueness of not only every snowflake, but every child. Read full book review >
YOU WERE THE FIRST by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"More than the children it ostensibly targets, new parents will appreciate this tender celebration of the parent-first baby bond that grows as fast as the little one does. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Two doting parents celebrate the many milestones of their first child. Read full book review >
THE TRUTH OF ME by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 6, 2013

"Some readers may find the gentle pace lacking in excitement, but for others, Robbie's quietly affecting observations will feel like truth. (Fiction. 8-10)"
Robbie, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, is a bit of a sobersides, a solemn young narrator, given to adult tone and phrasing in his spare, first-person, present-tense account of an unexpected adventure. Read full book review >
WHITE FUR FLYING by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2013

"Beautifully told, quietly moving and completely satisfying. (Fiction. 7-10)"
A rescued dog saves an unhappy, silent boy in this gentle story about families, fears and courage. Read full book review >
CAT TALK by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2013

"Though published for the preschool audience, this will no doubt find enthusiastic fans of all ages. (Picture book. 4 & up)"
As they did previously for dogs (Once I Ate a Pie, illustrated by Katy Schneider, 2006), MacLachlan and Charest give voice to a collection of charming pets beautifully rendered by veteran illustrator Moser. Read full book review >
NORA'S CHICKS by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 12, 2013

"Like her novels, MacLachlan's latest picture book is a heartwarming—but never saccharine—tale with an old-fashioned feel. (Picture book. 5-8)"
This low-key slice of life, apparently adapted from the author's grandmother's experiences as an immigrant child, offers a glimpse of another time and reminds young listeners that friends, whether feathered or human, are among life's sweetest gifts. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series. (finished illustrations, afterword and resource list not seen) (Historical fiction. 8-10)"
This prelude slips neatly into the classic series with a rural idyll that comes to a sudden, tragic end. Read full book review >
KINDRED SOULS by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 7, 2012

"It's rare to find a children's book that deals so well with death as part of life, offering kids an effective approach to coping with sadness that incorporates humor, love and joy. (Fiction. 8-11)"
This spare first-person account of a boy coping with his grandfather's death beautifully portrays something rare and surprisingly valuable: the opportunity to grieve for a loved one even while he is still alive. Read full book review >
LALA SALAMA by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Share this with preschoolers who may enjoy a peek into another culture's family life or keep at hand for the tired child, who will most appreciate this quietly sentimental offering. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Newbery Medal-winner MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall, 1985) sets her gentle picture book-cum-lullaby near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Read full book review >
WAITING FOR THE MAGIC by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 13, 2011

"An endearing testimonial to interspecies family relationships. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Pet lovers know that their nonhuman friends are magical beings imbued with preternatural wisdom, and anyone who's experienced the special bond between humans and animals firsthand is fortunate indeed. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 16, 2011

"Both doting grandparents and their faraway grandchildren can appreciate the message of this unabashedly sentimental tribute, an obvious gift book. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Missing a grandchild in a distant tropical country, a grandmother remembers their times together and reflects that they share the same moon. Read full book review >
I DIDN'T DO IT by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

The mother-and-daughter team MacLachlan & Charest and able artist Schneider present another charming volume of verses showing the thoughts of puppies of many breeds (Once I Ate a Pie, 2006). From the true-to-life portrait of an animated, very dachshund-ish dachshund on the dust jacket (accurate down to the tail and appealing eyes) to the rueful beagle on the colophon, these pups all express their takes on the world they share with humans. The verses are short, and the authors seem to understand canines and their likes, dislikes and self-discipline (or the lack thereof). Humor abounds, as do the activities, all illustrated in lively, textured oil paintings that make breeds clearly recognizable. From the flying ears of jumping dogs and the somewhat guilty "I didn't do it" look of a puppy surrounded by chewed-up rubble, the illustrator gives readers a series of winning portraits. If dogs could talk (and of course they do), they would say what this team has translated for us, the two-foots in the world of the four-foots: Even if I did do it, you love me anyway. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE TRUE GIFT by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 6, 2009

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world. Lily, the first-person narrator, and her younger brother, Liam, spend every Christmas vacation at their grandparents' farm. Liam wants to buy a cow as a companion for the family's pet, White Cow, who seems lonely out in the field by herself. By Christmas Eve, Liam has raised enough money to buy a calf companion, but there is also a Christmas surprise of several cow visitors brought by neighbors to keep White Cow company for the holiday. MacLachlan uses her typical taciturn style featuring dialogue and minimal description to convey the intense feelings of the sensitive little boy trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Floca's delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
FIONA LOVES THE NIGHT by Patricia MacLachlan
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Slipping out in the wee hours, young Fiona finds the night a safe, welcoming place where she can run through cool, firefly-lit grass, touch a leaf of silvery lamb's ear and see the dew-beaded web beneath, call to a mockingbird and meet the smiling Moon reflected in the pond. Shepherd uses fingerpaints to illustrate, but not in a childlike style; dots of soft blues and creams create subtly luminous highlights in the nightscape, and much of what Fiona sees is rendered with larger-than-page-sized closeness. Out trots Max the dog, to lead Fiona back to bed and smiling dreams. Young children, however they themselves regard the night, will feel enfolded by this nocturnal idyll, which is as tender and intimate as Kevin Henkes' Caldecott Medal-winning Kitten's First Full Moon (2004). (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
EDWARD’S EYES by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 28, 2007

In Jake's large family, the kids raise each other, and he's taught his younger brother Edward how to speak French, use the toilet and understand baseball. In fact, the whole family plays ball pretty much every day, and it's there that Edward's already unusual talents truly take form, as he is both a flawless hitter and self-taught knuckleball pitcher. But the reader knows, from the very start, that somewhere in this story Edward dies, and that his eyes (corneas) are transplanted. The story, then, is told in flashback through a lens of nostalgia that occasionally makes Jake's young voice ring false, in an otherwise engaging story of an unusual family, in which each character is quickly and fully realized, and vivid dialogue helps set each scene. As a story of overcoming grief, it works beautifully, and the quality and brevity of the narrative will appeal to those who read it despite its actual subject. (Fiction. 9-14) Read full book review >
GRANDFATHER’S DANCE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

The beloved story of Sarah and her family concludes with a touching marriage and a final farewell. Cassie Witting's older sister Anna is getting married and Cassie just doesn't get it. "I don't love anyone for marrying…except for (dogs) Lottie and Nick." Cassie thinks marrying a dog would be just about perfect. Everyone seems to have someone. Baby brother Jack shadows his beloved Boppa, Mama has Papa, the elderly Aunts, just arrived from Maine, have each other and Anna has Justin. When Cassie reads her journal to Grandfather, detailing her imaginary canine marriage, he encourages her to act out her wedding with the real dog, just in case he's not there for her real wedding. Cassie knows what he means, but does not like to think about all the pills Grandfather has to take or how tired he seems to get. She just likes to watch his funny little jig and marvel at the connection between Jack and Boppa. MacLachlan tells the story of love and loss with the same clear, sensible prose that punctuate the other terrific stories in this series. Cassie and Jack will never forget their grandfather and neither will readers. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
ONCE I ATE A PIE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2006

An appealing cover image of a charming pug invites the reader into this ode to canine companions by the mother-and-daughter team. Fourteen short, non-rhyming poems introduce a variety of highly individualistic dogs, with the personality of each one captured in just a few revealing lines. The poems are written in first person with an innocent viewpoint appropriate to a dog's egocentric perspective on the world. Abby "borrows" bones, balls and slippers (and doesn't give them back); Mr. Beefy the pug steals butter (or even a cherry pie) from the table; and Lucy, adopted from a shelter, sleeps between her owners with her own pillow and teddy bear. Schneider's expressive paintings add to each dog's character, skillfully capturing distinctive breed characteristics, with expressive eyes and playful postures that indicate thorough knowledge of canine behavior. Thoughtful design elements include a trail of paw prints leading from the cover through the front matter into the text, varying type treatments and a mixture of illustration perspectives. (Poetry. 4-9)Read full book review >
WHO LOVES ME? by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2005

In a gentle bedtime repartee, a little girl asks her feline friend, "Who loves me?" The cat replies, "Your mother loves you. She planted you a garden of white lilies. They shine like lights in the dark." Each time the girl asks, the cat reassures the little girl that her family, friends and pets do indeed love her by recounting how her family and friends express their love for her. But the final reassurance the little girl wants and hears just before falling off to sleep is from the cat. "I love you," says the cat. "I brought you a mouse once." The little girl remembers, "I let it go." And the cat reminds her that the mouse loves her, too. The lyrical text rises and falls in waves and curves, echoing the cat's tail. Shepherd's deftly expressed gestures embellish the text by conveying the girl's pleasure, her exuberant—sometimes impish, other times stubborn—antics. MacLachlan's patterned bedtime story lends itself to a quiet, nightly reading ritual that will spark the composition of new verses for the story's familiar refrain. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
MORE PERFECT THAN THE MOON by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

Cassie, an almost-third-grader, has taken up the journal passed on by her much older brother Caleb. She is fascinated by words and uses the journal not only to record what is happening in her family, but in her vivid imagination as well. MacLachlan reintroduces the family of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark, and Caleb's Story. Cassie is the much-loved daughter of Sarah and Jacob, and now there is to be a new addition to the family. Cassie writes about that "terrible baby" and vows never to like it. Of course, when her baby brother is born she accepts him as a gift "more perfect than the moon." The tale is charming and Cassie is a delightful narrator. Readers who have not encountered the characters in the previous works might not fully understand the family's dynamics, but they can certainly identify with her feelings about the new baby. If the power and deeply felt emotions of the original are missing, it remains a pleasant visit with old friends. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
BITTLE by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2004

Yaccarino's rubbery, boldly distinct figures reflect the vim and humor in this pets'-eye view of a new baby's homecoming. Nigel and Julia—a cat and a dog, respectively—are dubious at first about the new family member heralded by tiny socks and booties and a cage-like construction that Nigel declares is a crib. "The man painted a small room pale green. ‘The color of mold,' said Nigel." Yaccarino's perspectives (dog and cat close-ups through bars, baby being by far the biggest thing on the page) help shift the focus from intruder to companion as the four-legged pals "work" at taking care of the baby, sharing her cast-off food, and teaching her to howl. Over time, after adjusting to different sleep habits, even Julia warms to the toddler—whose first words turn out to be "woof" and "meow." Fans of Madeleine L'Engle's The Other Dog (2001) or Peter McCarty's more sardonic Hondo and Fabian (2002) will howl—with laughter—along with this closely knit interspecies trio. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
PAINTING THE WIND by Patricia MacLachlan
FICTION
Released: May 1, 2003

In this atmospheric mother-daughter collaboration (a debut for the daughter), a young artist works on his technique in the company of the painters who come to his island each summer with their easels, dogs, and families to paint. It's a debut for Schneider, too, who captures the narrative's restrained tone with impressionistic, broadly brushed views of dogs, dunes, beaches, the artists—and paintings, each of which is done in a subtly different style. Seeing his own picture of bent-over trees as if for the first time, hanging next to the others at a summer's-end exhibition, the lad realizes that "on my island, surrounded by water and light, I have done what I could not do before. I have painted the wind." Along with the likes of Cynthia Rylant's All I See and Sara Yamaka's Gift of Driscoll Lipscomb, this bears insights into how artists look at their world, and their work, and will broaden children's understanding of how and why art is made. (Picture book. 9+)Read full book review >
CALEB’S STORY by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan continues the story of the Witting family, with the believable characters readers have come to know and love from Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985) and its sequel, Skylark (1994). The family has changed, as Sarah and her husband Jacob now have a daughter named Cassie, a feisty, outspoken little girl of four or five, and older daughter Anna is living in town to attend school and work for the local doctor. Another major change in family dynamics occurs when Jacob's long-lost father suddenly appears. He is a worn-out, cantankerous old man with nowhere to go but his old farm, which he abandoned, along with his family, when Jacob was a boy. The bitter conflict between father and son is the heart of the narrative, this time told in first-person (and recorded in his own journal) by Caleb, who also copies passages from his sister Anna's journals from the previous two stories to help him understand his family. Sarah remains the rock, urging her husband to forgive his father and caring for all of them in her wise, understated way. MacLachlan's appreciative readers will savor this new addition to the chronicle of a delightful family, and many will be hoping for another volume in the series so we can learn precocious Cassie's story as she grows older. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST by Patricia MacLachlan
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 30, 1995

A superb writer presents the themes of leave-taking and memory that recur frequently in her novels, beautifully distilled into a picture book. From Skylark (1994), MacLachlan expands one phrase (``. . .she can't help remembering what she knew first'') into a story about a family's wrenching departure from their prairie farm and a young girl's determination to remember every detail. The spare text and Moser's haunting engravings are poignantly nostalgic; adults reading this out loud will find the combination affecting, but it may be less meaningful to children, with their limited experience of change and more concrete ways of thinking. The circumstances compelling the family's move are never explained; drought isn't the reason, and the narrator's question, ``Why are we leaving if everyone's so sad?'' is likely to echo readers' thoughts. Black- and-white with the barest hint of tint and as still and posed as old photographs, the atmospheric illustrations may puzzle the young: A man is disappearing from the frame in the frontispiece; the heads of the adults are cut off by the cropping of a family grouping. With very little book-talking, younger readers will take away from this as much as older ones; no one will fail to appreciate the gentle flow of words and understated sentiments. (Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
ALL THE PLACES TO LOVE by Patricia MacLachlan
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 30, 1994

An author whose powerful portrayals of families are often entwined with love for a home place weaves these familiar strands into a lyrical celebration of bonding with both. Beginning when his grandmother wraps him, at birth, ``in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep,'' Eli describes his grandparents' and parents' joy in him and his in their farm, where all their names are carved on a barn rafter. As Eli grows, he explores the countryside; the book ends as he plans to share favorite places with a new baby sister. The quiet narrative is so intensely felt that it commands attention. Wimmer, who illustrated Burleigh's Flight (1991), depicts the traditional farm in a romantically realistic style, catching the exhilaration of belonging in an idyllic landscape or the exquisitely observed details of a particular turtle, or of a well-loved face, with equal skill. A book that courts sentimentality, but is so well crafted and essentially honest that it escapes it. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
SKYLARK by Patricia MacLachlan
ADVENTURE
Released: March 30, 1994

The eagerly awaited sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall, which has already appeared on TV with a script by MacLachlan. Papa and Sarah are now married, but a drought intrudes on the family's new happiness. They struggle to haul water, watch their discouraged neighbors depart, then lose their barn to a prairie fire. Determined to hang on, Papa stays behind to rebuild while Sarah (pregnant, downhearted, and longing for her birthplace) takes the children back to Maine to visit. The coast's different beauty fascinates the children, but they're homesick—and so is Sarah; but in time the rains return out west, and Papa comes to bring them home. As sequel and companion to the film, this does well enough; MacLachlan's prose is dependably graceful and evocative. Still, it's a disappointment: she has little that's new to say about these beloved characters, and for once she's written a book that isn't particularly innovative or insightful; like other film-first fiction, it consists of dialogue, visual descriptions, and scenes echoing their earlier incarnation, while logic is elided for the drama of the moment (How could Papa rebuild the barn alone? What did he do about water for the stock, once the creek was dry?). Not outstanding, but amiable; fans will rejoice, and there'll be no trouble selling the first printing of 50,000. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
BABY by Patricia MacLachlan
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

In a spare novel with the resonance of myth, two troubled families are healed when their paths conjoin. Some years ago on a remote island resembling Nantucket, Larkin's parents are silently mourning the death of a baby they never named and never described to his sister. The day the summer people leave, they find year- old Sophie on their doorstep with a note: ``I will lose her forever if you don't do this, so pleese keep her. I will come back for her one day...'' Papa wants to tell the police, but- -after impassioned discussion—Mama dissuades him. Sophie stays until spring; and though Papa warns ``Don't love her,'' once they've cared for her, and shared her first words, the parting is hard indeed. Yet while Larkin fears this new bereavement— especially for Mama—love (``That word with a life of its own...flying above all of us like the birds'') opens the door to sharing their grief about their own baby. Once Sophie is gone, their feelings find words—and also lead to the dead baby's being given a name. At the story's beginning, Larkin's parents have abandoned her emotionally (an intriguing contrast to Journey); but Sophie's subsequent memories of her sojourn—in lyrical vignettes plus a poignant last scene of her return visit ten years later—are not of separation but of love: faces, gestures, images. Some circumstances (not least Sophie's being left with strangers so that her mother can care for a desperately ill husband) border on fantasy, yet the almost surreal events convey emotional truths with a power that surpasses literal realism. A searching, beautifully written story. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >
THREE NAMES by Patricia MacLachlan
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

MacLachlan knows the power of names; in Journey (p. 1013), any animal that's given one is destined to become part of the family. As the narrator's great-grandfather tells this story, his dog was more than thrice blessed: his sister and Mama each gave him a name; ``Papa called him Pal because he was one'';and Great- grandfather called him ``Three Names'' (`` `That's four names,' I told him, but he already knew that''). Three Names attended school with Great-grandfather ``a hundred years ago,'' riding along in the wagon the children drove across the prairie to the one-room school and sharing the lessons, the teacher's lunch, occasional celebrations, and the excitement of a tornado. Like Rylant's Appalachia (p. 322), this lovely, delicately honed text skillfully evokes its setting. In a fine debut, Pertzoff expertly reflects the quiet pleasure of a vividly remembered experience; his watercolors pay tribute to Moser's in their crystalline light and carefully controlled compositions, but have their own sensitivity and style. (Picture book/Young reader. 5-10)*justify no* Read full book review >
JOURNEY by Patricia MacLachlan
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Acting on the yearning expressed in the name she gave her son 11 years ago, Journey's mother has gone, leaving him with his grandparents and his older sister Cat. Mama sends money from time to time but no word or address. While Cat works out her distress by enlarging the farm garden, Journey struggles with his memories and tries to assign blame: Is it his fault that Mama left? Or is Grandfather, who's now preoccupied with snapping photos with the camera Mama also abandoned, an appropriate target for his anger? In supple, exquisitely economical style, MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall, Newbery Award, 1986) unfolds Journey's discoveries and insights along the way to his recognition that it's Grandfather—not the father who fled when he was a baby, not even Mama—who has always cared for him like a parent. In a symbolic act that Cat describes as ``murder,'' Mama ripped the family photos into tiny pieces that can never be rejoined; Grandfather is not only learning to take new photos but has found and is printing the old negatives. Meanwhile, a cat (``Bloom'') has insinuated herself into the family despite Grandma's aversion (she loves birds) and has given birth; and Journey has continued his friendship with Cooper, whose warm, happy family provides a healthy model: not perfect, but good enough—as Journey can finally describe their own family when Mama eventually telephones. Vintage MacLachlan: uniquely memorable people; a funny, pungent, compact, and wonderfully wise story. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8+)*justify no* Read full book review >