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Set during World War II, this poignant, briskly paced historical novel relays the events of one extraordinary summer from three engaging points of view.
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.
About the Author
Amy Hest is the author of many beloved books for young readers, including Remembering Mrs. Rossi, Letters to Leo, and the Katie Roberts novels. She is also the author of many picture books, including Kiss Good Night, When Jesse Came Across the Sea, and the Baby Duck books. Her more recent titles include Buster and the Baby, On the Night of the Shooting Star and Are You Sure, Mother Bear? Amy Hest lives in New York City.
Hest deftly deconstructs this scenario through Bruno’s, Julie’s, and Martha’s flashbacks, escalating the intrigue before finally illuminating the identities of the baby and the woman—and why each has appeared. A poignant composite portrait of three children’s—and two loving families’—hope and resilience in the face of loss and uncertainty.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
At first glance, The Summer We Found the Baby (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763660079, ages 10 and up), a short novel about a baby discovered in a basket on the steps of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, appears to be a sweet snapshot of life in a small town during World War II. But author Amy Hest packs much into its pages—an intricate plot, deeply imagined characters and relationships and adroitly tackled big issues such as death and unplanned pregnancy—and handles it all with delicacy and care.
—BookPage (starred review)
It’s a simple premise: A baby found alone in a basket. Yet the complicated layering of events makes for a truly engaging and heartwarming story of steadfastness and solidarity. Young readers will be drawn in by the mystery, stay for the characters, and sigh contentedly when the story draws to a close.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Hest balances foreground action against background deftly: The mystery of the baby will be a happy reveal, and the war will continue...Warm family stories laced with some sorrow and great joy.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hest’s unique narrative approach divides the book into sections that describe the incidents of August 31 and then go back to June 21, sequentially unfolding the summer’s events...This historical tale engagingly presents ordinary life, while acknowledging the toll war can take on a community.
Bruno thinks about his older brother’s enlistment in the military to fight in World War II, and Julie and Martha think about the loss of their mother and Julie her determination to make things happen. The result is a gently told, slightly mysterious historical narrative that gradually lays down clues about who the baby is and what Julie’s doing with her...the piecing together of the strands and the resolution for the baby will satisfy readers looking for an offbeat read that both challenges and reassures.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
In short chapters that emphasize the youth of those involved—Ms. Hest uses capital letters rather than quotation marks to set off speech, making it seem as though the children are shouting—the testimonies of Bruno, Julie and Martha braid together to form a satisfying, bittersweet story of life on the home front.
—The Wall Street Journal