cover image Hannah


Kathryn Lasky. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-439-78310-1

At the turn of the century, 15-year-old Hannah Albury is sent on an "orphan train" to Kansas, where she is consumed by longing for the ocean. This longing soon turns to illness, as her skin begins to flake in tiny, iridescent crystals. Persuading her benefactors to send her back to Boston, she is hired as a scullery maid. Domestic work brings Hannah the opportunity to experience many marvelous things, but what draws and troubles her most are portrait painter Stannish Whitman Wheeler, who seems to understand her in uncanny ways, and the eldest daughter of the house, Lila Hawley, whose malice is equally inexplicable. Lasky is at her best in evoking Hannah's aquatic preoccupation and the way it molds her perception of everything around her. The story's plot seems to take a backseat to historical detail: while readers will likely suspect the revelations to come, they are a long time in arriving, and the story offers little in the way of closure. This is the first in Lasky's planned Daughters of the Sea series, with plenty left open for later titles. Ages 9%E2%80%9412. (Sept.)