What is the mark of a well loved story? Is it the number of times it has been read? Is the the creases in the spine, the tattered corners and folded covers? Is it when you crack open the book and fall its world so far that its sights and sounds seem just out of reach?
Somewhere around fifth or sixth grade, The Secret Garden was one of those beloved books for me (as was A Little Princess). I winced when Mary Lennox was at her worst, secretly cheered when she badgered Colin Craven to push himself and celebrated as difficulties wrought with drama were overcome. There was a twist and rhythm of the words that lingered.
I was thrilled then to discovered that two books I received at the AASL conference last week reference The Secret Garden. The first of those books is Laurel Snyder’s Seven Stories Up, which is coming out in January 2014 from Random House.
Annie lives with her mom in Atlanta. That’s all the family she’s ever had close, so it is surprising when her mom suddenly takes her to Baltimore where her grandmother is dying. They head not to a hospital, but to the closed Hotel Calvert and a suite on its seventh floor. There Annie finds a lonely, acerbic old woman barely kept alive by medical technology.
Spending the night in an unfamiliar room, Annie awakes to discover a girl sitting on her bed. Inexplicably, Annie has traveled back to 1937, a year when her grandmother was confined to a suite of rooms with severe asthma. With a distant, busy father and her mother out of town with two of Molly’s sister, Molly is hungry for attention, for life. It is up to the sometimes impetuous Annie to challenge Molly to step beyond the bounds set for her.
I enjoyed this visit to the past and the wonder both girls have for a city unknown to them both. Whenever Annie used a term that Molly didn’t know, I had to smile at the attempted explanations. Molly’s insular nature begins to thaw as her world opens.
So step back into the past and discover all Hotel Calvert can hold.
Please Note: I received a free copy of this ARC while attending the AASL Conference last week.