Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
Ten-year-old Willow lives with her four-year-old brother Twig. They are in the care of their mother, since neither of their fathers have stuck around to raise them. When their mother breaks her parole and takes off, they are left in the care of Maisie. Unfortunately Maisie suddenly dies, and the two find themselves alone in the city.
With no one left to look after them in the city where they were born, they are sent to live with Willow's grandmother, a writer, in her house called Stonecrop. From the rough streets of Vancouver, the children must adjust to a rural setting in Ontario, and the ways of their grandmother.
Both heartbreakingly real and honestly inspiring, the story of Willow and Twig reverberates with the realities of growing up alone and unwanted, learning to be proud of who you are and having the courage to find out where it is that you truly belong.
About the author
Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. Her parents were both doctors. Jean grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels. The author focuses on her experiences from the time she was a child through young adulthood in her autobiography, Little by Little, and continues her story in Stars Come Out Within. The books, which will appeal to children 10 and older, are both humorous and poignant as Jean describes living with a disability and the ridicule she sometimes experienced as a result, as well as her love for the world of reading and books. Jean's books include From Anna, Listen for the Singing, Stand In The Wind, Mama's Going To Buy You a Mockingbird, Hey World, Here I Am!, Look through My Window, Emma's Yucky Brother, The Belonging Place, and Mine For Keeps. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985.
Jean Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little, Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995. It tells the story of Sally Copeland, a 10 year old with cerebral palsy, and her adjustment to being home after spending several years in a special school. You'll find that several of the themes in this book appear in a number of the author's other books: dealing with a handicap and the responses of others, fitting in, and adjusting to new situations and surroundings.
Other titles by Jean Little
A Long Way Home
Le long chemin
Harry's Hiccups Read-Along
Listen for the Singing
Dear Canada: Hoping for Home
Stories of Arrival
Once Upon a Golden Apple
25th Anniversary Edition
Pippin the Christmas Pig
Hand in Hand
Inspired by the real-life story of Helen Keller and Martha Washington
Dear Canada: Exiles from the War
The War Guest Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss, Guelph, Ontario, 1940