The Wonder of Charlie Anne

 
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The Wonder of Charlie Anne

Living on a farm in the midst of the Great Depression means that times are hard, especially for Charlie Anne and her family, who recently lost their beloved mother. Charlie Anne hears the voice of her mother everywhere she goes, especially the nearby river, where she seeks out refuge from her sadness and troubles. Still, she knows that they will always get by as long as they stay together as a family, a conviction that is shattered when her father leaves them to earn money building roads up north. Left in the care of their awful cousin Mirabel, she and her siblings have to make by as best they can, wearing hand-me-down clothes, going without shoes and education, and working hard to maintain their home. It’s not the happiest existence, but Charlie Anne tries her best to keep the family united. Everything changes on the day that two strangers move in next door and shake the town upside down. Rosalyn is a free-thinking schoolteacher who runs around in red pepper red trousers, and Phoebe is her African-American daughter, the first person of color that Charlie Anne has ever seen in her life. The two girls become fast friends, and fast funny Phoebe turns out to be the perfect solace for the still-grieving Charlie Anne. Unfortunately, cousin Mirabel and the rest of the town are not as thrilled with their new neighbors, and they have to keep their playtimes a secret. As racial tensions mount and Rosalyn and Phoebe try to open up an integrated schoolhouse, Charlie Anne learns what people are really made of. Her hard times have just begun as she learns to stand up to injustice for the sake of her friend, finally donning some trousers of her own and realizing that this world still has plenty of surprises and pleasures in it. This is a lovely tale of friendship in the face of adversity, of family and love, of the power of education, and of life after loss. 266 pages. (Molly gives this one five stars, BL) 272 pages Ages 9-12

Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian

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