A DECEMBER TALE by Marilyn Sachs


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A heart-wringer about Myra, who is always crying--calls people on the phone, then just blubbers at them--and who has much to cry about. Her mother split, father remarried and took older sister Helen to live with his new family, neighbor Mrs. Singer brings chicken soup but feels too old to care for children, and so Myra must live in a foster home with bad little brother Henry who pees in her slippers and is always being beaten by foster mother Mrs. Smith. Myra pleads with Dad (through Helen) and with Mrs. Singer to take her, never mind awful Henry, and she has imaginary conversations with Joan of Arc who will help her save France (this time, from Hitler). But it's Henry she saves, on Christmas Eve, when Mrs. Smith is giving him an especially ferocious beating for something she did, and Myra's old feeling for him rushes back. . . and with it the "secret word" (it's in baby talk) she's sure will unlock Mrs. Singer's door. Myra's fantasy is pathetic and believable but it doesn't quite mesh, and her discovery of the secret word comes off just as forced. What we're left with is the sobbing, though of course Sachs knows enough not to saturate the prose.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0385123140
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1976


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