Gratefully Yours

Jane Buchanan, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $15 (128p) ISBN 978-0-374-32775-0
As this quiet and sometimes strained first novel begins, it is 1923, and Hattie, the nine-year-old narrator, has just completed a four-day ride on an ""orphan train"" from New York City to Nebraska. There she's adopted by a farming couple whose son's recent death to smallpox was followed by a stillborn daughter. Hattie warms to the farm's animals, especially an affectionate cat named Cloud. Just as she begins to feel at home with the stalwart, virtuous Henry and his depressed wife, Elizabeth, a rather trumped-up misunderstanding makes Hattie think she isn't wanted after all. Cloud is her only solace, and then the cat dies in a snowstorm. This final tragedy brings the orphan and her new family together. Throughout, both Hattie and Elizabeth resent being told to be grateful for their good fortune, especially when the advice comes from those who haven't suffered as they have, and this theme is well developed. On the other hand, a subplot about another orphan who is beaten by his new father is left open-ended, while Hattie's own troubles are squared away rather quickly and tidily. Although there's enough drama in Hattie's status as an orphan and enough sympathy in Buchanan's depiction of it to sustain readers, the resolution comes too easily for lasting satisfaction. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Other - 117 pages - 978-0-606-16834-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-17804-4
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-14-130315-4
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