cover image The Store That Mama Built

The Store That Mama Built

Robert Lehrman, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $12.95 (126p) ISBN 978-0-02-754632-3

In 1917 the Fried family has moved to Steelton, Pa., to run a general store. But when their father dies, the children must make the store succeed or face returning to slum life in New York City. The story focuses on 12-year-old Birdie, whose pluck leads to the store's eventual success. Birdie sees the local prejudice against blacks as similar to the anti-Semitism her family escaped in Russia, and she encourages her mama to extend credit to black families, especially since none of the other businesses will. An old-fashioned heartwarmer, Lehrman's novel doesn't break any new ground; neither her characters nor their setting really shine. Based on family history, the meager plot far outweighs the players; while Birdie might have been a real girl, she never comes to life in these pages. Ages 8-12. (May)