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Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Stitch In Time, by Daphne Kalmar. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2018. $22.50 ages 9 and up

"This had been her special workspace since she was six and she'd brought Sam her first dead mouse and asked him to show her how to fix it. She'd always come here to Sam's after school, until her pops came home from the Metal Works. Watching Sam work was like going to a magic show. When she was six he'd carried the body of a great horned owl into the parlor.  It was enormous - feathers scruffed up, head tipped back over Sam's arm ... "

Donut is 11, living with her father in Vermont in the late 1920s. Her mother died at childbirth, and she and her father have lived a good, happy life together. His stories have provided Donut with a picture of the mother she never knew. After his recent death in a car accident, Donut must deal with new heartache. Missing her father, and worrying that she will no longer learn anything about her mother, she is filled with sadness.

When a well-meaning, but stoic, aunt arrives with a plan to move Donut to Boston with her, Donut decides she will have none of it. Leaving the only home she has known, and all of her memories of her father, does not fit with the way she wants to live her life.

Frustrated and frightened, she makes a hasty plan to run away. It is fraught with problems. First, her father's boat sinks and she must find her way to shore and the cabin that is her destination. Numerous difficulties arise, including a fire which burns down the shack where she has found shelter. It's time to go back and face the music, and try to convince her aunt to leave things well enough alone.

Donut is a remarkable character. She is brave, loyal, loves taxidermy (a skill she has learned from her father's best friend, Sam), poker and geography. She does not want to leave Tiny, Sam and her village. Aunt Agnes is adamant, and leaves little wiggle room.

In this tale of family, grief, love and being sensitive to others' plans for your life, readers will meet characters who have only what is best in mind for a young, spunky girl they all love and admire. You will feel the same when you get to know Donut better.

If you have kids who love historical fiction, hand them this book. They will not be disappointed.

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