What it lacks in the present-day angst so present in many novels for young people, Rosetown makes up for with its zen-like narrative. It isn't as if the protagonist, Flora Smallwood, doesn't understand the troubles of the real world of the 1970s—the Vietnam War and her parents' separation—but it's the plucky way she weaves through life in the face of them. And the reliability of her small-town support system of the local bookstore, an adopted stray cat, and her new friend Yuri will reassure modern readers that there is goodness to be found just around the corner. Recommended by Kelly Barth.— From Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant
From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana.
For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window.
But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third.
Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!
About the Author
Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including the beloved Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Brownie & Pearl, and Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Her novel Missing May received the Newbery Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Visit her at CynthiaRylant.com.
Nine-year-old Flora experiences the loss of a pet, the separation of her parents, and the start of fourth grade, but a year of good changes is in store for her.It's 1972, and Flora Smallwood loves growing up in the small town of Rosetown, Indiana. She especially enjoys reading three times a week in the purple velveteen chair at Wings and a Chair Used Books. Flora needs the respite: She just lost her dog and is dealing with her parents' recent separation. Fourth grade is starting, and everything seems different. Flora finds comfort in her old routines with Nessy, her best friend, and new routines with Yury, her new friend from Ukraine. As the year goes on, there are nice changes in store for her family and friends, such as new pets, lessons, and interests. From a third-person point of view, readers get a glimpse into Flora's quaint, small-town life as she deals with all the changes, good and bad. Rylant shapes Flora's experiences and thoughts such that they are accessible to all children, as Flora tries to hold on to the old and comfortable while adjusting to the new and different. The narrative is a lovely story of Flora's daily life interlaced with hints of the 1970s. The book assumes a white default. A sweet story for children dealing with change. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
A sensitive and perceptive girl searches for balance and order in this taut, graceful novel from Rylant, set in small-town Indiana in 1972. Flora, “who sometimes felt quite acutely the stress of being nine years old,” is grappling with the death of her beloved dog and with her parents’ separation, and wonders where her fellow fourth-graders found their “sudden confidence.” A comforting constant in her off-kilter life is Wings and a Chair Used Books, where her mother works; Flora is happiest curled up in the store’s eponymous armchair, reading “extra-vintage” children’s books. She shares the bookshop, and the worlds and words its books contain, with Yury, a compassionate new classmate from Ukraine, who in turn “shared his cleverness” with Flora and makes her “feel more certain.” Serenity, the stray cat she adopts, brings another affirming change to Flora’s life, as does her parents’ reconciliation and their decision to purchase an 1890 letterpress and open a paper and printing shop. Eloquent and resonant, Rylant’s writing is as timeless as the deceptively simple story she relays, which celebrates objects and relationships both old and new, and poignantly underscores the significance of family, friendship, and home.
— Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW
Gentle and old-fashioned in the best sense, this story introduces nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, who loves living in Rosetown, Indiana. Not everything is perfect. Her dog Laurence has recently passed on, and her parents have decided to live in separate houses, at least for a while. But Flora has two good friends that support her: Nessy, who she’s known since they met at the library storytime, and Yuri, from Ukraine, who likes to read as much Flora does. Simply written, the book’s leisurely pace belies the fact that quite a bit happens during this school year. Flora finds a new pet; learns some new skills; and is surprised when her teacher informs her she might have the makings of a real writer, urging her to send her poetry to the newly launched Cricket magazine. All the characters, children and adult, get their due, but Flora’s dad is especially finely drawn. Set in 1972, this references some of the issues of the era—environmentalism and the end of the Vietnam War, though not civil rights—but in many ways, this could as easily have been set in 1952; some readers may hardly recognize the setting's enduring calm. Rylant, a Newbery medalist, seems to polish each word she writes, and here offers a little gem about small-town life. — Ilene Cooper
— Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*