One of my favorite reads of 2011 was Sheila O’Connor’s Sparrow Road. A midwest setting, a creepy mansion/artist’s colony, and mysteries–what more could you want? (Not to mention beautiful prose and compelling characters.) So I was very excited to read the author’s next book, Keeping Safe the Stars. Here’s a summary from Goodreads:
|Such a gorgeous cover|
When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family
Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their
grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their
grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught
them, in self-reliance.
But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and
is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to
fend for themselves. Pride, as oldest, assumes the lead. Though she
makes mistakes, she keeps them afloat; they even earn money for the bus
trip to Duluth. But when they finally see Old Finn, he can’t walk or
even say his own name, and Pride knows her days of keeping safe the
Stars are drawing to a close. Self-reliance can’t make Old Finn well
again. But maybe, just maybe, a secret from Old Finn’s past might make a
way for them to stay together after all.
In a review somewhere (possibly on Goodreads), Keeping Safe the Stars was compared to the Boxcar Children series. The resilience and love in the Star family did remind me of that beloved series (not just the plot element of kids fending for themselves). This story is set in the Watergate era, and it was so interesting to step back into a relatively recent time when kids were encouraged to be independent in their home/community–I’m not necessarily saying it’s good or bad that middle-graders rarely roam free on country roads today; things are just different.
This book is full of strength and grit and community, and it has a love story, too. I really adored it.
I’m not alone in my feelings for Keeping Safe the Stars; it recently won the Midwest Bookseller’s Choice award for Children’s Literature.
To see what other marvelous middle-grade books readers and writers are blogging about today, check out Shannon Whitney Messenger’s blog for the MMGM links!
I remember enjoying The Boxcar Children, although I weirdly can’t remember anything about the kids or the storylines.
The 70s! One of my randomly favorite eras.
I LOVED the Boxcar Children growing up and I’ve studied in depthly Watergate (thanks to a high school project about 7437475 years ago when I was IN hs, haha!), and this so appeals to me because of those things. I am looking forward to this one – and to be quite frank, middle grade is a hard sell for me. Thanks for this review, Rebecca!
Love that cover. I hadn’t heard of this one, but I’m intrigued by your mention of The Boxcar Children and the Watergate era. Even as someone who roamed relatively freely during my childhood, the notion freaks me out completely now that I’m a mom. I can’t imagine ever being comfortable with my kiddo out and about without me — yikes!
Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for this one!
I have to agree, Katy! I loved how I could stay out until sundown as a kid, but I can’t imagine doing that today, and for good reason. This book really made me nostalgic for that time (or, in my case, the late ’80s).
Both of this author’s books are on my to reads. I would say so little time so many books, BUT, I will make the time happen oh yes I will. Thanks for the MMGM feature!
I’m pretty sure I would absolutely adore this story – and the fact that it’s set in the Watergate era? That’s just a teensy bit (but right around) before my time (wait…did I just show my age…ugh)And I love the cover! Thanks for the recommendation!
This sounds like such a great story. I grew up later than the Watergate era but still at a time when running around the neighborhood with my friends was okay, so I’m intrigued by that aspect of the story. Also, that cover is beautiful!
What a beautiful cover! It sounds like this is such a great book. I love that it takes place in Minnesota (where lots of my family lives). I have added this to my list. Thanks for sharing!