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Author: Marion Dane Bauer

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Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children, ©2009

Material: hard cover

Summary: Stacy (11) liked things the way they were - just she and her dad, living under the "bluest sky in the world." Now Barbara is here, and soon she'll have a baby brother or sister. Stacy has had enough. After one argument too many with Barbara, she heads east, out into the Oklahoma prairie. She quickly discovers that the bluest sky covers a very big, scary world. On her first night, two German shepherds greet her and lead her to Ella. Old Ella and her matter-of-fact ways are just what Stacy need to figure out what comes next. This coming of age story gives readers a sense of time and place, but with a timeless message.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 12 and Up

Reading Level: 5

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: At first I was a bit skeptical of the story, and felt like it was going to be predictable. It definitely wasn't. Stacy is a young girl that all young readers can relate to, and Ella is a character to be admired and feared. Although there is no "year" associated with the story, it is easy to envision rural, small-town life in the early 1900s.

Pros: This slim novel (106 pages) packs a powerful, endearing story that will stay with readers a very long time. This is a very strong candidate for a high interest / low readability book for high school students.

Cons: In one scene, Stacy has to kill a sick and dying puppy. It is not overdone, and Stacy's emotions ring from the page. However, it could upset some young readers.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a book that will stay with you, and for teens, it may be a book they come back to every once in a while just to get Old Ella's perspective on life.


Educational Themes: The predominant themes are family and dealing with your emotions. The story addresses them in the context of the choices and realities of everyday life. The book offers the opportunity to look at life from several points of view - Barbara, Old Ella, Stacy, and her dad.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: family, growing up, Oklahoma - Fiction

Date(s) Reviewed: January 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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