Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Linden Tree Audio

The Linden Tree Audio

Ellie Mathews
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Marguerite Gavin
Blackstone Audiobooks, Inc., 2008   ISBN: 978-1433228780

Katy Sue Hanson and her family are reeling from the loss of Katy Sue's lovely and much loved mother. Edna Hanson got sick very suddenly with meningitis, and her family barely had time to register what was happening before she was gone. Now their Iowa farmhouse feels very empty without her, and the three children, particularly Ingrid, are struggling as they try to take care of all the things that used to be their mother's responsibility.

For a while things are better when Aunt Katherine, Mama's sister, comes to stay and to help. While she is there, the house does not feel so empty, and Ingrid, though she tries to deny it, appreciates the help. But Aunt Katherine has her own life, and soon she leaves the Hansons on their own again. The children manage as best they can, and Ingrid gets better at managing in the kitchen, though she still cries a lot. Things seem to going reasonably well until the day when the relatives come over and they start to fuss that Papa cannot raise the two girls by himself. In other words, they think he needs a woman around to help him.

In desperation, Papa calls Aunt Katherine and asks for her help. Aunt Katherine quickly decides to come to help her sister's family and soon she is living on the Hanson's farm, keeping everything organized. Or course Aunt Katherine is not Mama, as Katy Sue discovers, and everyone has to adjust to this new family situation. And, of course, just because Aunt Katherine is there does not mean that the Hansons don't still miss Mama very much indeed.

In this beautifully written and often lyrical tale, Ellie Matthews explores the ways in which the members of a close knit family cope with their grief when one of their number suddenly dies. Katy Sue finds it hard to cry, and so she draws pictures and thinks back to the good times, holding onto the Mama she once knew. Her sister, on the other hand, cries a great deal and takes refuge in the kitchen, doing her best to take Mama's place as best she can.

Full of powerful imagery and truly lovely language, this is a story that will continue to leave an impression on the mind of listeners long after the audiobook has finished playing. In Marguerite Gavin's narrative she captures the emotions in Katy Sue's voice to such great effect that the girl's pain and grief is almost tangible. As are her feelings of warmth when her life starts to improve at last.