Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Karen Hesse
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Scholastic, 2008   ISBN: 978-0439879934

Jack, Maybelle, and Eddie live with their mother, who is working the night shift tonight. Lately she has been working so hard that “she got nothin’ left over” for herself or her children. Maybelle, who is the eldest, decides that they should go to Mr. Kenney’s potato field to glean the potatoes that the harvester left behind. After all, not to take them would be “just plain wasteful.”

As they walk to Mr. Kenney’s field, Maybelle rhapsodizes about all the wonderful things Ma will be able to make using the potatoes that they are going to get. When they get to the field, the children set about collecting as many potatoes as they can with only the light of the moon to guide them.

Tired but happy, they make their way home through the frost covered countryside. When they get home, Jack spills the contents of their bags on the floor, which is when he discovers the horrible truth. Most of what they collected are rocks!

In this beautifully written picture book, Newbery Award winning author Karen Hesse takes us into the home of poor family whose members are having a hard time making ends meet. Readers will be moved as they see how the three children try to help out, and they will understand the lesson the children learn as a result of their actions.

Accompanied by Wendy Watson’s lovely illustrations, this is a story that will give young readers something meaningful to think about.