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"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
Summary: Mary Ann and Betty, a wheat doll, were best friends. They went everywhere together. It wasn't until after she'd been called inside before a big storm that Mary Ann realized she'd left Betty on a tree stump. With such a bad storm, Betty was blown from her resting place into a muddy hole. Mary Ann searched, but she couldn't find her friend. It was a long, lonely winter for her. Mary Ann thought she'd lost her friend forever, until one day she went out to the field and saw something amazing. Could it be a doll growing in the field? This is a family story from the 1800s created as a picture book.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 5 to 9
Reading Level: 5.1
Age of Child: Read with a 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: We stopped frequently during the story to look at the illustrations. Mary Ann's expressions are very vivid, and my daughter was drawn to studying her.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a beautiful story. Although it is set in 1800s Utah, it is a timeless tale about the connection between a girl and a treasured friend. There is a happy ending, and the twist is most clever. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful, and you could select them individually to either tell this story or to create new ones. The story is simply presented and the 5.1 reading level seems high for the content. This is based on a true story, which you don't learn until you get to the end.
Pros: This beautifully illustrated book offers both a sense of history (life in rural Utah) and a timeless story about a child's love for a prized toy.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. If you have a little girl - even if her lovey isn't a doll - she will appreciate this book.
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Educational Themes: Go to the back of the book first. This book offers an example of oral history. The author learned of the story from her ancestors. Let this book be a starting point for kids to interview relatives and talk about stories they remember other relatives telling them. With older readers, you can talk about what makes a happy ending, change, and growth.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.1 Awards: 2009 Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (starred, primary); 2009 Children's and Young Adult Book Award (primary - fiction)/International Reading Association; 2009 Spur Awards (Storyteller Award)/Western Writers of America