I avoided this book for a long time because I had heard it was too upsetting for children. Yes, it is a sad book. And it might be too sad for some children. But there are lots and lots of children who would like to hear this story.
Dicey and her three siblings have come to live with their grandmother. Their mother is in a mental hospital; their father skipped out before Dicey’s youngest brother, Sammy, was born.
There are lots of problems to overcome. Dicey’s sister, Maybeth, isn’t learning like she should in school. James, Dicey’s brother, hides how smart he is in order to fit in. Sammy gets into fights. People talk about and tease the children about Gram. Dicey, like Gram, has learned to feign indifference.
The whole Tillerman clan slowly works on all these problems, talking together, singing together, making new friends, working, building a boat.
Now I’m anxious to see what my readers of realistic fiction at school think of this book.