Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Cynthia Rylant
For ages 8 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2018   ISBN: 978-1534412774

Change is not something that sensitive and bookish Flora finds easy. Lately there have been a lot of changes in her life, and the situation has left her feeling rather out of sorts. First the beloved family dog died. He was an old friend and so his leave-taking was not exactly a surprise, but his death still had a profound effect on Flora and her parents. Then, just a few months after Laurence’s death, Flora’s parents decided that they “need to take some air” because they are “are in a bit of a mess.” What this means in practical terms is that Flora’s father now lives in a little white house five blocks away from the house that Flora’s mother calls home. Flora has bedrooms in both homes and she moves between her parents. It is not the most comfortable of situations.

When Flora begins a new school year she discovers that being in fourth grade is very different from being in third grade. Somehow, for no apparent reason, the students have changed. Instead of being the “stumblers, the wanderers, and the floaters of third grade” they are tall, strong, loud, and surprisingly confident youngsters are don’t seem to be afraid of life anymore. Flora has no idea what to do with this.

Thankfully, she is not the only person in the class who feels “uncertain.” There is a new boy called Yury. Being new and having an exotic foreign name and family means that he is not sure what to do either. Yury and Flora quickly discover that they have a lot in common. They are both clever, they walk the same route to and from school, they both have lost a beloved pet recently, and they both love to go into the local used book shop to read books.

One day Flora and her father, who is a newspaper photographer, set off for “something of a cosmic experience.” They drive out into the country and there they meet a man who has just parachuted out of a plane. Though meeting the parachutist is certainly interesting, what Flora’s father really wants to share with his daughter is getting to say hello to Zowie, the man’s canine parachuting friend.

As they drive home, for a while, Flora gets a special feeling of “expectation.” Something is in the air and Flora has no idea what it is.

It turns out that quite a few somethings are in the air in Rosetown. In fact, in the months ahead Flora has several quiet adventures that make her life richer and more interesting.

This gem of a book explores a year in the life of a nine-year old girl who lives in a small town in 1970’s Indiana. The events that affect this sensitive young person might not seem like much, but through her eyes they take on a heightened level of importance. They become colorful and meaningful. We are reminded that sometimes the little adventures that we have are just as fabulous as the big ones.