Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Lumber Camp Library

Lumber Camp Library

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Illustrator:  James Bernardin 
Fiction
For ages 7 to 10
HarperCollins, 2003   ISBN: 978-0064442923

Ruby loves her life in the lumber camp. It is a hard one it is true but it is still a cheerful one, with happy times in their little cabin and in the woods around them. Best of all there is Papa whom she adores. Ruby is his "jewel" and together they share many wonderful moments. Thus when Papa is killed in a lumber accident Ruby is devastated. To make matters worse she and her family have to leave the camp and move into town and Ruby also has to give up going to school because her mother needs her help at home. Now Ruby's mother has to provide for the family and Ruby has to help in every way that she can.

Not being able to go to school is especially hard because Ruby no longer has access to books and she loves to read. It is as if everything that she has ever cared for has been taken from her. Then a little light comes into her shadowed world when she makes friends with an old lady who has a whole house full of books. Mrs. Graham unfortunately cannot read any of them anymore because she is blind and she is happy to lend Ruby as many of the precious volumes as she can read. A special friendship grows between Mrs. Graham and Ruby's family, one which is only made stronger when Ruby's mother gets exhausted and sick.

The one thing that helps Ruby throughout this time are the memories that she has of her father and the love that she and he shared. When it is suggested that her mother might marry again Ruby is appalled. No one can take the place of her beloved Papa and Ruby is determined to make sure of this.

In this powerful chapter book about life in the north woods of Vermont the author beautifully captures the hardships but also the joys that people experienced in their lives. We can grieve with Ruby and watch her as she slowly comes to terms with her father's death and with the fact that life indeed must go on though loving memories can last forever.

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