THE GODMOTHER TREE by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur


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Like Katherine Paterson's The Smallest Cow in the World (1991), a book that depicted a Vermont farm family and was first published by the Vermont Migrant Education Program. Here, Laura, 10, and her family may not be typical migrants--a nearby uncle is a successful businessman, and her great-aunt, a physician, lives in South America--but their experience of moving from farm to farm, the parents overworked and underpaid and the kids feeling unwelcome in each new school, is painfully familiar. Their new place is a large but rundown house that Mom tackles with vigor; meanwhile, hardworking Dad, who loves farming, depends on the three children for help. Still, this owner is essentially fair and Dad's job is unusually secure. Meanwhile, a mysterious outbreak of vandalism is traced to middle child Ryan, disturbed by the latest move; gentle brother Luther, 16, is deeply depressed after accidentally killing a pair of fawns, but is comforted with Laura's help and his own artistic gift; and Laura finds sanctuary in a beautiful old tree where she goes to read. Things may work out a little too easily--Ryan's troubles are swiftly identified and effectively addressed, while everyone wins prizes at the county fair--but the setting is beautifully realized, the family interestingly idiosyncratic, warm, and believable, the social problems realistically portrayed. A likable story with real insights.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1992
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: HarperCollins