THE SECRET CAROUSEL by Claudia Mills

THE SECRET CAROUSEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Does ten-year-old Lindy belong here in Three Churches, Iowa, with Pops (her grandfather) and Grain, or off in New York where older sister Joan has gone to life with sophisticated Aunt Bea and study ballet? When Joan first announces her plan to move, Lindy foresees endless boredom for herself, stuck at home with Pops' daily ritual of waiting for the mail (he never gets much) and Gram's endless stitching on a log-cabin quilt. She wanders off to the old fairgrounds and discovers an abandoned carousel (""just as Pops had described it many times"") in a barn, and while she's there she decides that her own place is at home with Pops and Gram. Later, disappointed because Joan will perform in Nutcracker and thus won't be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, Lindy runs off to the carousel again and decides that she will ask Joan if she too can go to New York. With a class play in production, Lindy impresses Pops, her teacher, and her classmates with her acting ability--and determines, at the carousel, that her acting will get her to New York. Humiliatingly, she gets stage fright on the night of the performance; but eventually another play comes along (she'll be the witch in Hansel and Gretel)--and Lindy also gets involved in planning a garden with Pops and in scraping and painting the carousel animals on her own. So that when Joan's invitation finally arrives, she's only remorseful that Pops and Gram have seen it first and will be hurt. Once more she heads for the carousel, where Pops finds her and reveals that he carved it years ago. (Odd he never mentioned that before.) And Lindy tells him, truthfully, ""I want to stay in Three Churches with you and Gram."" But Mills exaggerates the momentousness of such a decision at age ten, and the whole carousel motif with Lindy's yo-yo visits there is as artificially contrived as Pops' revelation. The story has some sympathetic moments, in the classroom and at home with Pops and Grain, but these are marred by Mills' overly nostalgic and corny view of life in semi-rural Iowa.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1983
Publisher: Four Winds