Hahn (Stepping on the Cracks) mines her mother's reminiscences of growing up in Baltimore before WWI to create this nostalgic chapter book. Though set in a bygone era of gas street lamps and horse-drawn delivery carts, these episodes in the year Anna turns nine have timeless themes. Anna's efforts to eavesdrop are thwarted, for example, when her mother and aunt speak in their native German to tell secrets, so she attempts to learn the language on her own. (Hahn includes a glossary of German words and phrases.) On a dare from her best friend, Charlie, Anna speeds down a cobblestone street on her roller skates and ends up with stitches. One of the most humorous chapters also delivers the greatest lesson: Anna throws herself a ""surprise"" birthday party after her mother strictly forbids having friends to the house; her aunt saves the party, but as punishment Anna has to go to her room without dinner. Children will recognize the personalities and rivalries of the neighborhood (e.g., snobby Rosa with the perfect coat and her sidekick Beatrice as foils for tomboyish Anna) and will seeing the similarities between Anna's time and their own. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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