Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear America is Back!

Okay, so maybe it never went away, but for a while the Dear America series didn't seem as popular at the bookstore.  Now they've been reissued with sparkling new covers (which is a smart move on Scholastic's part). 

Compare this for instance:

to this new cover:

Much better, wouldn't you agree?

I've always avoided actually READING the Dear America series because I thought the books looked rather boring.  Then this ARC of a brand new Dear America book fell into my lap:

It's called Dear America: Like the Willow Tree, The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce (coming January 2011 from Scholastic, for ages 8 to 14).

And it's written by LOIS LOWRY.  Yes, that Lois Lowry.

It takes place in Portland, Maine, during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.  Lydia and her older brother Daniel are orphaned by the epidemic and taken to live with the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake. 

The Shakers do everything differently.  Lydia isn't allowed to talk to her brother, because men and women are kept apart.  Her beloved copy of The Secret Garden is taken away from her because no one is allowed to own things.  But Sister Jennie, the older Shaker who is in charge of the young girls, reads the book aloud to all of them while they work, so Lydia still gets to hear the story.

Lydia doesn't understand at first why she can't go talk to Daniel.  And when Sister Jennie demands Lydia's ring, saying "we Shakers do not ornament ourselves," Lydia screams at her and calls her names. Gradually, Lydia grows to accept this new way of life, but her brother Daniel can't handle it and runs away.

It's not The Giver, but I found it entertaining and I learned a great deal about the Shaker community.

Have you read any interesting historical fiction recently?


  1. Wow, Lois Lowry? That is definitely going on my reading list.

  2. Hey, Natalie! Yep. I couldn't believe it either.

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.


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