cover image One-Of-A-Kind Mallie

One-Of-A-Kind Mallie

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32694-0

This companion to Ruthie's Gift serves up another slice of WWI-era Americana as Ruthie's friends, the Graber twins, come into focus. Mallie Graber is tired of people thinking that she and her sister are ""as alike as two peas in a pod."" Mallie knows that she is different from Hallie and is determined to prove it. Her search for independence leads her to some curious destinations: the Gypsy camp, where she attempts to trade her Hallie-look-alike dress for a bright red blouse; and the Jenkins's orchard, where she picks cherries to pay for piano lessons from Mr. Jenkins's new mail-order bride. Readers will be quicker than the Cedarville town folk to recognize the characteristics--spunkiness, creativity, a love of classical music and a long stubborn streak--that set Mallie apart from her ""identical"" twin. References to Red Cross knitting circles, war gardens and soldiers' deaths convey the wartime setting. Although the story lacks the dramatic tension and depth of Ruthie's Gift, the characterizations are just as sharp and engaging. Offering period details in an easy-to-read narrative, this book, like its predecessor, is a perfect recommendation for fans of the American Girls series. Ages 7-12. (Aug.)