cover image Room for a Stranger

Room for a Stranger

Ann Turnbull. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-868-6

Turnbull (Speedwell; No Friend of Mine), in her third novel about the Dyer family, chooses a quiet but compelling circumstance of wartime Britain--the evacuation of city children to homes in rural towns--as dramatic impetus for a gently told story about acceptance, forgiveness and friendship. The youngest Dyer, 12-year-old Doreen, wrestles with her envy of Rhoda Kelly, an evacuee from Liverpool sent to live with the Dyers in their modest country home. Though only a year older than Doreen, Rhoda possesses a worldliness about dress, makeup and boys that captures the younger girl's imagination. Rhoda's charm and singing talent win her friends and admirers, but at Doreen's perceived expense. How Doreen's feelings toward Rhoda evolve into genuine friendship involves a momentous escapade and a hair-trigger rescue. An eminently believable character study of a girl on the threshold of adolescence, this story combines with details about life in a small English town during wartime to illuminate a chapter in history in a fresh, approachable way. Ages 10-14. (May)