Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant
Set in a small town in Indiana in 1972, this is a comforting and gentle chapter book appropriate for primary grades about a 9-year-old girl named Flora. Flora is facing changes in her life: her beloved dog has recently died, her parents are separated, living in different houses, and she is starting fourth grade, which is very different from third grade. Over the course of the year, she adopts a cat, makes a new friend, and her parents get back together. There is no real conflict in the story and no swearing, violence, sex, or modern technology; it is just a sweet and simple story with a happy ending. Nothing bad really happens, except the death of Flora’s dog and that happens before the book begins and Flora comes to terms with his death, feeling that he will always be with her, and bonding with the cat she adopts. Though her parents separate, they never begin divorce proceedings and get back together and are happy again. The book has an old-fashioned feel to it, a la Beverly Cleary or Elizabeth Enright. It is a good choice when you are looking for a happy story – an ordinary girl with loving and supportive family and friends dealing with life’s changes – and this makes it appropriate for younger readers, though it is a chapter book and the main character is in fourth grade. I think older readers may be bored with it, though it is a lovely story; it is best suited to younger grades. A feel-good read about family and friendship and happy memories of your childhood hometown.