by Betty Birney, published 2005
“Sit down now, Eben McAllister, and pay attention to what I say,” she ordered me. So I sat. Because when folks in Sassafras Springs start to tell a story, it’s likely to take a while.”
It’s hard to believe this is a contemporary children’s book, as it reads and feels like something from another time and place. It’s set in early America, and the style is slow, rambling, and filled with stories of ordinary people’s little miracles; the kind of stories a grandma or grandpa might tell a young’un. The credit for shifting the reader’s perception of time goes to the skilled writing of the author, who lets us feel, see, smell, and hear, an older, slower, and more innocent time in our world.
The theme could sound trite: the wonders of the world exist right in our own backyard if we know how to look for them. But this children’s book handles the theme in a way that is not preaching; it simply states it and reveals wonders through the eyes of an innocent country child from Missouri. Are today’s (urban) children’s too savvy, too jaded to enjoy this children’s book? Perhaps some are. However, there are many who are not, and while your child is still young, impressionable, and open to wonder, do share this book with them. You have no idea what a valuable gift they may receive from the simple moral.