Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Summer We Found the Baby

Hest, Amy. The Summer We Found the Baby
July 14th 2020 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Julie and her young sister Martha are taking a cake to the opening of the new children's library in their small coastal town during WWII when they find a baby in a basket on the front steps! Unfortunately, Julie's nemesis, Bruno, also shows up and interferes with her plans to take the baby to the beach and... well, she doesn't have the best plan. Martha, who is six, is up for any adventure, and just wants to name the baby Nancy. While the three try to decide what to do with the baby, we learn about the events leading up to their discovery. Julie has written to Eleanor Roosevelt, asking her to come to the library opening. Since her own mother, who passed away when Martha was very young, was also Eleanor, she feels there is a special connection. Bruno, whose older brother Ben is in Europe fighting, is on a mission to go into New York City and find Tess, the girl that Ben secretly married before he shipped out. Ben is concerned about Tess for a special reason, but doesn't tell Ben what, just that he should bring Tess back home with him. We find out why Julie is angry with Ben, and also the reason he had to find Tess, as well as the identity of the baby.
Strengths: This reminded me a little of Carolyn Haywood's B is for Betsy books, which were written around the time this is set. Leaving babies lying about for people to find was a popular theme in books; think also about The Boxcar Children, where the children run away and live in the woods and no one seems to notice. This book was a gentle way to introduce what was going on during WWII in a way that young people at the time might have experienced it. The opening of the children's library, and especially Eleanor Roosevelt, was especially charming.
Weaknesses: The reason the baby was left outside the library seems really weird to me. I don't want to spoil things, but during the war, I think that there were a lot of young people who got married (secretly or not so secretly) and had babies, and the families were okay with it.
What I really think: I will pass on purchase, since this is a bit young for my students, but I can see it being popular in an elementary library where titles like Rylan's Rosetown or MacLachlan short novels are popular.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Thanks for this review. I've been wondering about this book. Normally, I like books by Amy Hest. Now I am looking forward to it. Sounds like a good one for The Children's War.

  2. I read this novel several weeks ago and wasn't impressed with how it was written. Haven't run my review. I understand why the baby was left outside. What bothered me was how the story jumped around and the baby was on the back burner for a while. Everything comes together at the end, but it is very predictable.