cover image Faraway Summer

Faraway Summer

Johanna Hurwitz. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15334-2

The 120-year-old Fresh Air Fund, which gives free rural vacations to inner-city children, here provides readers the chance to explore not one but two period settings. In the summer of 1910, 12-year-old Hadassah (Dossi) Rabinowitz, born in Russia and now orphaned, leaves the small room she and her sister share on New York City's Lower East Side to spend two weeks with a Vermont farm family. She brings the blank book she has won for ""best achievement"" in her seventh-grade class, and her entries comprise the narrative. Hurwitz (author of the Class Clown books) does not attempt to ape a 12-year-old's writing--the chapters are replete with dialogue and traditional exposition. The Meades have never met a Jewish person before but are open-minded. One daughter likes Dossi immediately; the other, standoffish at first, eventually becomes a good friend. The story line is somewhat artificially pumped up around a brand-new library book that gets ruined; although there is also a fire (in which Dossi plays a heroine's part), the chief interest lies in the conscientious presentation of two different cultures. Dossi reports excitedly on Mrs. Meade's canning and the girls' farm chores; she in turn tells the Meade sisters about the pickle barrels on Delancey Street and her sister's long days at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Hurwitz's research is convincing and her protagonist sympathetic enough to forgive the author's few contrivances; readers will likely be drawn to this little-known slice of history. Ages 7-up. (Apr.)