Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Miracles on Maple Hill

Miracles on Maple Hill

Virginia Sorensen
Illustrator:  Beth and Joe Crush 
For ages 9 to 12
Harcourt, 2003   ISBN: 978-0152047184

Marly hardly recognizes her father any more. He basically looks the same but he is withdrawn, tired, and so often he is angry. Ever since he came back home from the war he has been different and because of the change in him it has been decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to go to Maple Hill for a while.

Maple Hill was Grandma’s home and when Mother was young she used to go and stay there every summer. She has very fond memories of the place which she shares with Marly and her brother Joe. Mother hopes that being away from the noise and bustle of Pittsburg, and having the house and garden to work on will help her husband recover from his wartime ordeal. Daddy will stay at Maple Hill and Mother and the children will go there on the weekends and whenever school is out.

Before they even get to Maple Hill the car gets stuck in the snow. Who would have thought that there would be so much snow up there this late in the spring? Thankfully Grandma’s old neighbors are not far and are able to come to the rescue. Marly likes Mr. Chris and his wife Chrissie at once and that very evening she and her family join Mr. Chris in his sugar house to watch him make maple syrup. It is a fascinating process to watch and seeing the thin watery sap turn into the thick rich syrup is almost like watching a miracle unfold before her eyes. Marly hopes that many more miracles will take place on Maple Hill.

Over the next weeks and months a great many changes do take place. Every time Mother and the children come to Maple Hill Daddy has done more work to make the place cleaner, brighter and prettier. He transforms the garden and in the process he himself slowly comes back to life. Marly learns all kinds of wonderful things about the countryside from Mr. Chris. He shows her the flowers and the other growing things, and he tells her all about the ways of the animals.

With the coming of the summer vacation Marly, Joe and Mother are able to come to Maple Hill for the whole summer. Better still, when the fall approaches, the family decide to stay on at Maple Hill for the winter. Daddy is doing so well and it would be a shame to go back to city to live. Now Marly will truly be able to watch the seasons unfold on Maple Hill. How many more miracles will she get to see?

In this warming, beautifully written and thoughtful book, readers will be reminded that there is a lot more to life than the never ending bustle and chaos of a modern town and city existence. One can learn and gain a great a deal by spending time in the country and by reconnecting with the seasons and with nature. Written in 1956 this book is still very relevant to the modern day reader if he or she is willing to slow down enough to appreciate it.