This historical book by Virginia Sorensen is published by Odyssey, Harcourt Young Classics, Harcourt Inc. and is written for kids ages 8 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Marly's dad is back from the war — but his experiences as a prisoner of war changed him. Hoping to restore her husband's zest for life, Marly's mom brings the family to her grandmother's house on quiet, rustic Maple Hill. The neighbors, Mr. Chris and his wife, Chrissie, welcome Marly's family and show them the essentials of their syrup-making business. Mr. Chris also teaches Marly and her brother, Joe, about animals, plants and the transformations in nature. As Marly witnesses the changing seasons, neighbors working together and her father's spirit healing, she becomes convinced that miracles do happen on Maple Hill.
Mr. Chris says he would swear on a Bible that the syrup Marly helped harvest during his illness tastes exactly like his.
Marly's parents come to Maple Hill for a fresh start. Initially, her father is tense and cranky, and her mother walks on eggshells around him. After a short time in their new home, her father rediscovers a sense of joy in life by singing, working the land, etc., and her mother is able to relax. Mr. and Mrs. Chris, neighbors who knew her mother as a girl, prepare meals, offer assistance when needed and invite Marly's family to learn about their interesting vocation. Mr. Chris explains nature to the kids on a regular basis. Miss Annie Nelson, the truant officer, comes looking for the children to punish them. When she sees the way they're helping with Mr. Chris's crop, Miss Nelson enlists other children in town to assist as well.
Other Belief Systems
Mr. Chris tells Marly that witches supposedly used the blood from a particular root to kill people.
Newbery Award Winner, 1957
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Are you more like Joe or Marly?
- Do your siblings bother you, or do you wish you could spend more time with them?
- When Marly's family rallied to help Father, he began to find joy in life again. When everyone helped make the syrup, Mr. Chris's harvest was saved, and he began to feel better.
What does this story teach you about working together?
- How do you define a "miracle"?
Many of the things Marly saw as miracles had to do with the changing of the seasons and the beauty of life around her.
Do you consider those things "miracles"?
- Does it seem wrong to you that miracles are mentioned often in this book but God is not?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.