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Children's Literature Reviews
Item 1 of 1

Patricia MacLachlan.
Publisher description
New York : Delacorte Press, c1993.
132 p. ; 20 cm.


Taking care of a baby left with them at the end of the tourist season helps a family come to terms with the death of their own infant son.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1993 ; United States
Lasting Connections, 1993 ; American Library Association; United States
Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1994 ; NCTE Children's Literature Assembly; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1994 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, August 1993 ; Cahners; United States
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1993 ; Cahners; United States
Teachers' Choices, 1994 ; International Reading Association; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1994 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award, 1994 Winner Young Adults United States
South Carolina Junior Book Award, 1996 Winner South Carolina

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Golden Sower Award, 1997 ; Nominee; Intermediate; Nebraska
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 1996 ; Nominee; Illinois
South Carolina Junior Book Award, 1996 ; Nominee; South Carolina

Curriculum Tools:

Link to Discussion Guide at Multnomah County Library

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 4
Accelerated Reader Points 2
Accelerated Vocabulary, Literacy Skills


Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Sept. 1, 1993 (Vol. 90, No. 1))
Twelve-year-old Larkin and her family find a baby sitting in a basket, abandoned at their door. A note (as beautiful as the letter in MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall, 1985) says simply: "This is Sophie. She is almost a year old and she is good. . . . I will come back for her one day. I love her." Larkin and her mother, father, and grandmother care for the baby. They always know that Sophie will leave one day, but they can't stop themselves from loving her. As the seasons change over a year in their island community, the baby releases the unspoken sadness that has been keeping Larkin's family apart: a baby boy born six months before had lived only one day, and no one can talk about it. At first the plot seems contrived, Larkin's narrative voice self-conscious, the characters idealized, and the healing almost co-dependency therapy. No one has a mean thought, ever. But the spare lyricism of MacLachlan's writing and the physical immediacy of daily life with this very real baby will move the most hardened cynic, especially when Sophie begins to talk sentences. Her words are as absurd and loving as those of the island people, as elemental as the wind and rock. Sophie's mother finally comes back for the baby, and she's told: "Everyone here has rocked her and read to her and wiped her tears and sung to her. Lalo taught her how to blow a kiss, and sometimes she slept with Larkin. She painted with Lily, and she danced with John." The story is also about the silence between words, and in the parting scene, when Papa "stared at Sophie as if he were trying to memorize her," MacLachlan makes love and grief one circle. Category: Older Readers. 1993, Delacorte, $13.95. Gr. 5-10.

Susie Wilde (Children's Literature)
The family cannot talk about how the baby in their family has died. One day a stranger leaves a baby named Sophie with them and promises to come back. They all love Sophie and while she grows up with them, they begin to talk about the baby they lost. A year of bittersweet healing follows where, as Sophie grows in babyhood, the family grows in understanding and communicating. All the characters are interesting, and the story is sad and happy at the same time. 1993, Delacorte, $15.95 and $3.99. Ages 11 up.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993)
In a spare novel with the resonance of myth, two troubled families are healed when their paths conjoin. Some years ago on a remote island resembling Nantucket, Larkin's parents are silently mourning the death of a baby they never named and never described to his sister. The day the summer people leave, they find year-old Sophie on their doorstep with a note: "I will lose her forever if you don't do this, so pleese keep her. I will come back for her one day..." Papa wants to tell the police, but--after impassioned discussion--Mama dissuades him. Sophie stays until spring; and though Papa warns "Don't love her," once they've cared for her, and shared her first words, the parting is hard indeed. Yet while Larkin fears this new bereavement--especially for Mama--love ("That word with a life of its own...flying above all of us like the birds") opens the door to sharing their grief about their own baby. Once Sophie is gone, their feelings find words--and also lead to the dead baby's being given a name. At the story's beginning, Larkin's parents have abandoned her emotionally (an intriguing contrast to Journey); but Sophie's subsequent memories of her sojourn--in lyrical vignettes plus a poignant last scene of her return visit ten years later--are not of separation but of love: faces, gestures, images. Some circumstances (not least Sophie's being left with strangers so that her mother can care for a desperately ill husband) border on fantasy, yet the almost surreal events convey emotional truths with a power that surpasses literal realism. A searching, beautifully written story. 1993, Delacorte, $13.95. Starred Review. © 1993 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
After bidding good-bye to the last of the ``summer people,'' Larkin, her parents and grandmother return home to find a baby in a basket. ``I cannot take care of her now, but I know she will be safe with you. . . . I will come back for her one day. I love her,'' reads a note from the child's mother. The little one's name is Sophie, and she brings a great deal of joy and comfort to the household. Yet casting a shadow on this spirited baby's luminous presence is the family's knowledge that she does not truly belong to them, and that she cannot take the place of Larkin's brother, who died in infancy. The Newberry Medalist's lean yet lyrical narrative gracefully entwines past and present, as brief passages present an older Sophie's fragmented memories of her interlude with the family. Inspired by poems, songs and Sophie's growing vocabulary, Larkin (whose mother communicates through her paintings and whose father expresses himself through his tabletop tap dancing) ponders the meaning and power of words (``There were words in the spaces between us; those words we had never spoken, words about what I thought was right''). If the story is not as compelling as Sarah, Plain and Tall or Journey , MacLachlan's style remains masterly. It is difficult to read her sentences only once, and even more difficult to part from her novel. All ages. (Oct.)

Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 1993 (Vol. 47, No. 1))
A poignant tale of doubles, this first-person narrative reveals twelve-year-old Larkin's grief over the recent death of her newborn brother and her ambivalence toward Sophie, a toddler abandoned on their Northeast coast island doorstep. Larkin's parents, too hurt to name or discuss their loss with Larkin, open their hearts to Sophie, even while knowing that Sophie's mother will return to claim her as soon as possible. Larkin's consolation has been her grandmother, Byrd, and her friend, Lalo, and the novel comprises a dance of healing in fragmentary scenes involving one or several of these six characters. MacLachlan's careful forecasting and stylistic control, reminiscent of nuances in Sarah Plain and Tall (BCCB 5/85), serve to smooth these scenes together, including Sophie's occasional memory flashbacks from ten years after the action, when Larkin brings her back to the island for Byrd's funeral. Occasionally the lyrical writing strains for effect, as when Lalo says something clever beyond his years, or word repetition emphasizes a development already rendered fictionally obvious-the one-word sentence "Love," for instance, concluding Larkin's emotional embrace with her father. Part of the plot, however, is a search for words, so the philosophizing, especially on the part of a poetic school librarian, underscores the story more than it interrupts it. What moves a reader beyond the level of MacLachlan's more generalized messages are the sharp, persistent details of daily living at which she excels; Papa's playing Rock-Paper-Scissors with Sophie long before she can understand the game makes an unforgettable motif. The dynamics of family are closely observed, and the situation itself is sensitively imagined and imaginatively rendered. R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, Delacorte, [112p], $13.95. Grades 5-7.


LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.M2225 Bab 1993
93022117 [Fic]
0385311338 : $13.95 ($16.95 Can.)
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