Eleven-year-old Margo Bandini has never been afraid of anything. Her life in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with Mama and Papa and her little brother, Charlie, has always felt secure. But it's 1933, and the Great Depression is changing things for families all across America.
One day the impossible happens: Papa cannot make the payments for their house, and the Sheriff Sale sign goes up on their door. They have two weeks to pay the bank, or leave their home forever. Now Margo is afraid--but she's also determined to find a way to help Papa save their home.
First-time author De Young uses her own family history to create a Depression-era story about first-generation Italian-Americans living in Johnstown, Pa., in 1933. Eleven-year-old Margo Bandini, her parents and young brother, Charlie, face losing their house if they do not find a way to pay back the bank loan used to cover hospital expenses for Charlie's emergency leg operation. In a letter, Margo appeals to Eleanor "Everywhere" Roosevelt, the person she admires most, for help. Her teacher (who moonlights as a reporter and knows the First Lady) provides a swift, personal delivery of the letter and soon Margo receives a reply that restores her faith in miracles and resolves the crisis. Despite its rather contrived conclusion, this historic novel is successful in conveying the climate of the times: the "domino" effect of the steel mill cutting back workers' hours translating into failing businesses and the necessity of neighbors relying on one another for support during hard times. Margo emerges as an admirable heroine whose actions reveal a generous heart and determination to help her family hold on to their home. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
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August 07, 2000
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