Thursday, February 7, 2008

Book Review : Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson

When I originally wrote my book, The Great Depression in Literature for Youth, Deborah Hopkinson's book was on my radar. The only trouble was I couldn't get my hands on an actual copy. I knew, from what little I could find about this book, that it was set during the depression and that the story involved an auction. So even though I hadn't actually read the book, I felt its theme matched the purpose of my book, so I included it with a simple, one line description. Now that I have read, Saving Strawberry Farm, I'd like to expand on my original description.

The first thing I noticed about this charming book were the vibrant illustrations. Rachel Isadora used colored pencils to create engaging scenes that depict the era, right down to main character, Davey's blue overalls. Set on a hot summer day, Davey is sent to buy ice. While at the general store, he learns that the local strawberry farm will be auctioned off because the owner, Miss Elsie, cannot pay her mortgage. Can Davey find a way to help Miss Elsie before she loses her land forever?
Ms. Hopkinson offers a detail account of how neighbors rallied to the aid of people about to lose their land by holding a penny auction. She describes how the people banded together to keep the sale price of the farm so low, Miss Elsie was able to buy it back from the bank, thereby saving her strawberry farm.

The New Deal Network describes a penny auction in the following link:
An Author's Note is included that gives background information on the depression, farm auctions and small grocery stores from that era, like the one featured in the story.
Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich (Illus. by Michael Garland) is another book that features a penny auction. But in this book, instead of one parcel of land being sold, it details how household items, including a prized pony, could be auctioned, too.
Saving Strawberry Farm author, Deborah Hopkinson link:
Happy reading!

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