On My Bookshelf: The Summer We Found the Baby by Amy Hest

September 14, 2020

The Summer We Found the Baby is a sweet historical fiction read narrated by two sisters, Julie and Martha, and their summer neighbor, Bruno. Julie and Martha find a baby outside of the library off the beach town they are staying in for the summer. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes, the identity of the baby and how and why it appeared at the library are slowly revealed. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to the train station to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, who is a soldier overseas in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, the same Julie who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library with a baby in her arms, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper.

Of course, the truth is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest. Told in three distinct voices, each with a different take on events, the novel captures the moments and emotions of a life-changing summer — a summer in which a baby gives a family hope and brings a community together.

The Summer We Found the Baby is a sweet historical fiction read narrated by two sisters, Julie and Martha, and their summer neighbor, Bruno. Julie and Martha find a baby outside of the library off the beach town they are staying in for the summer. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes, the identity of the baby and how and why it appeared at the library are slowly revealed. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: The Summer We Found the Baby is a sweet historical fiction read narrated by two sisters, Julie and Martha, and their summer neighbor, Bruno. Julie and Martha find a baby outside of the library off the beach town they are staying in for the summer as their father interviews soldiers at a nearby base. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes, the identity of the baby and how and why it appeared at the library are slowly revealed.

I loved the three different voices of the narrators, the unique plot organization, and the surprise appearance of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. All three narrators were somewhat unreliable because of their age, but their ages are also what filled their stories with such a range of emotions and insights, especially the scenes focused on the tragedies of war.

The novel begins with the main event, the discovery of the baby on the day of the library's grand opening, but then works backward to piece together the events that lead to this one and then works forward again. Each chapter includes a segment from each of the three narrators. The segments, or vignettes, were all connected to the same event, but not just a retelling of an event from different characters' perspectives. I never read anything structured quite like it. I did think Tess's pregnancy/baby sub plot was a little cliche, but the telling of it through the children's eyes made it tender.

Classroom application: I would recommend this one for fifth grade and up. Students who love historical fiction, particularly titles focused on WWII, will enjoy this title focused on the home front.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Summer We Found the Baby for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Summer We Found the Baby is a sweet historical fiction read narrated by two sisters, Julie and Martha, and their summer neighbor, Bruno. Julie and Martha find a baby outside of the library off the beach town they are staying in for the summer. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes, the identity of the baby and how and why it appeared at the library are slowly revealed. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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