cover image Borrowed Children

Borrowed Children

George Ella Lyon. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05751-3

Because her mother is bedridden, Mandy, the narrator of this Depression-era tale, has to stay home from her beloved school to run the house. Mandy's voice is older than her 12 years, but it seems appropriate to a girl who takes on daunting chorescooking and cleaning for a family of eight in an isolated farmhouse with no electricity or running water. When the strain of her many responsibilities takes its toll on Mandy, she is allowed to take a trip alone to visit her maternal grandmother at Christmastime. Mandy sees the common thread that connects her grandmother to her mother and on down to herself. Lyon has created a wonderful character in Mandy, at once smart, wry and naive. Descriptions are sparked with lambent imagery (""Organ music is rich and excited, like darkness broken into light''). Lyon's simple yet penetrating observations on families and love convey truths as pertinent to adults as to youthful readers. Ages 10-12. (March)