One reason I love children's books is the way they help us develop empathy with other people. I recently read a touching story of a young girl who is recovering from losing her home in a hurricane: Ellie Ever, by Nancy Ruth Paterson. It works well either to read aloud with kindergarten through 2nd graders, or as a short chapter book for older children to read.
Ellie EverAfter losing her father and all their possessions in a hurricane, nine-year-old Ellie and her mother must figure out how to pull their life together again. At first, they live in temporary housing in a church, and Ellie begins to think of things "BH" and "AH", or before the hurricane and after the hurricane. And then one of the church members helps them find a fresh start - a job and home on a horse farm in Virginia, and a scholarship for Ellie at an exclusive girls' school.
by Nancy Ruth Paterson
NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010
ages 8 - 11
available at your public library or bookstore near you
preview this book in GoogleBooks
Ellie struggles to fit in at this new school, not really knowing why the girls don't seem to like her. But when her new classmates think that she lives in a mansion and is a princess, she lets this misunderstanding go unresolved and the rumors grow. Ellie is conflicted about what to do - she knows that she should tell her classmates the truth about where she came from, but she also enjoys the attention and new friends.
Children will be drawn in by Ellie's love for horses, but they will really enjoy the emotional connection they develop with Ellie. It is a chance for readers to think about what it would be like to lose everything - your father, your friends, your home, all your possessions - and start over, making new friends and building a life for yourself. Ellie and her mother are optimistic, no-nonsense characters, ones that think about things but don't let them get them down. This is a great choice for kids who like realistic stories that are thoughtful, but not too heavy.
The review copy came from our home library. It was also reviewed by The Spine Label, where Julia wrote, "This is a sweet (without being too saccharine) story about staying true to one’s self."
Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.