Blue Willow by Doris Gates is a book we read this year as part of Notgrass History. It was a new title to me, and one which enriched my life. I don’t know why our library has failed to offer this Newbery Honor book in its inventory, but it did. I was able to get a free copy from Paperbackswap.com – a wonderful resource for book lovers and homeschooling moms.
This book is the story of ten year old Janey Larkin, her hardworking dad who was misplaced due to the Dust Bowl, her mother, who is weary from the hardships of the transient lifestyle, and the ceramic blue willow plate, that offers Janey an escape into the picture etched into the plate. Janey and her family land in the San Joaquin valley to pick cotton. Janey meets Lupe, a young girl living nearby and embarks upon her first friendship. Janey hopes against hope that this will be the place they can stay “for as long as we want”, but trouble starts. The rent for the shack they live in is high, and her mother gets pneumonia. Can Janey possibly help the family? You’ll have to read and see.
The story is lovely, and fully brings to life the hard times of the Great Depression. It’s a quick read and should definitely be on your child’s (or your own) summer reading list.