Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

I Am Lavina Cumming

I Am Lavina Cumming

Susan Lowell
Illustrator:  Paul Mirocha 
Historical Fiction
For ages 8 to 12
Milkweed, 1993   ISBN: 978-0915943777

Lavina Cumming has always lived on her father?s ranch in Arizona. She has also always been able to "run wild" with her brothers, riding horses, helping with the roundup, going camping and generally behaving very much like a boy. In the early 1900?s this was not seemly behavior for a girl and Lavina?s father has reluctantly decided that his daughter has to learn how to be a young lady. So, Lavina sets off for California and the home of her aunt. Lavina has had a very sheltered life and finds herself seeing and doing many things for the first time. She also finds herself confronting fear on a regular basis but she reminds herself over and over of the Cummings family motto, "Courage" and without really realizing it she lives up to that motto. Not only does Lavina deal with the drastic changes to her life and to being away from her family, but she also deals with the terrifying experience of waking up in a house that is practically shaking itself to bits. It is April 18 1906 and the day of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Lavina saves a life on that day and turns out to be sensible and brave during the crisis.

In this delightful book the author incorporates the art of storytelling into her tale. Lavina is told lots of stories by her father, her now dead mother, her aunt and other people she spends time with. By the end of the book, as she heads back to Arizona for the summer holidays she has stories of her own to tell. Lavina is connected to the past, the present and the future through the stories of her family and friends. She is no longer just a passive listener but is now a teller in her own right.

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