by B. J. Hoff
This is one of my favorite books. I first read “The Penny Whistle” a short story contained within this novel. Maggie MacAuley, a young girl from an Irish immigrant family living in the Kentucky hills during the late seventeenth century. The family is poor although slightly better of than many of their neighbors since Maggie’s father is a foreman at the mine. Jonathan Stuart has recently come to Skingle Creek to serve as the schoolteacher for the children of the mining community. He is a sickly young man from the city. He is kind and understanding and Maggie thinks he epitomizes what a “gentle” man must be.Ms. Hoff describes the community and people with understanding and a depth of feeling bringing life to the pages.
The children are like children everywhere, Ms. Hoff shows the good, and evil that comes out in their relations with each other and their teacher. Maggie growth in understanding and knowledge is demonstrated through her relations with her family and the community. A book suitable for young adults and suitable for family reading, its entertaining as an adult read.