Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Summary: Marvel, age 6, tells the story of her family which consists of her mother and seven siblings ranging in age from 3 months to 14 (she’s number 5). Dad, she says, “lives with the angels now”, so the family has to find a new home. This turns out to be a one-room shack in the woods, which the family works hard to turn into a cozy home for the eight of them. Through the seasons, they garden, preserve, chop wood, and trade with their neighbors to feed themselves. Their money covers needs, not wants, so after visiting the general store, the kids set up a play store outside their house. A year later, spring arrives again, and Marvel sees the shack differently now: “warm and bright and filled up with love…like I feel inside.” The author’s note reveals that the narrative is based on her Aunt Marvel’s life; the family lived there for five years during the Great Depression. She encourages readers to write down their own family’s histories. 48 pages; ages 4-10.
Pros: I loved this cozy story about a family working hard and staying optimistic despite pretty bitter hard times (one illustration shows them all, including the mother, sharing the one bed in the house). Kids will be especially intrigued to learn that this is based on a true story.
Cons: After making the connection that Eliza Wheeler illustrated Holly Black’s Doll Bones, I couldn’t help noticing that all the family members looked slightly pale and Edward Gorey-esque.