image“Sarah didn’t see how she could manage the costumes and scenery alone, and she wished she could talk to Katie about it.  After all, it was Katie’s play, too.  But Katie seemed to have forgotten that.  Everyone was leaving everything to Sarah.

“At this low point in Sarah’s life, she wished every morning that something different would happen, but when something finally did happen, she wished it hadn’t.”

  • from Sarah and Katie by Dori White.  Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

I’m a major fan of Trina Schart Hyman, so when I encountered a book I had never heard of with her illustrations, I snapped it up.  I was hoping it might be a good one to pass on to my niece, who is 9 and recently starting to gobble up chapter books.  After reading it I’ve decided it’s a little old for her.  All the characters are sixth-graders, and beginning to have the friendship drama that typifies that age.

Sarah and Katie are best friends going to school together in the 1930s.  At the beginning of the story, they find out they have won a school contest to write a Thanksgiving play for the sixth grade.  Then, one of the two classic story beginnings occurs: a stranger comes to town.  Melanie is from Hollywood, California, and has gorgeous long curls, beautiful dresses, and has actually met movie stars.  Sarah, along with most of their class, is star-struck, and when Melanie offers to be the lead role in their play, she finds it hard to refuse.  Katie, who is too practical to be drawn in my Melanie’s charms, feels snubbed and stops speaking to Sarah.

It’s an insightful story told with kindness and wisdom, and it would definitely help kids work through the confusions that develop with a growing social awareness.  Touches on poverty, divorce, and the different ways people need each other.  Good for fifth-seventh grade, to read in the fall.