Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home Older Children and Young Adults: 2009 Family Reminders / by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by John Shelley

Family Reminders / by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by John Shelley


  Family Reminders
Author:  Julie Danneberg
Illustrator:  John Shelley
Publisher:  Charlesbridge
ISBN: 978-1-58089-320-6
Year:  2009

Concepts:  jobs, scarcity, entrepreneur, consumers and producers

Review:  During the late 1890s, Cripple Creek stood out as one of Colorado’s most well-known mining towns. Young Mary McHugh loved the mountain air, the beautiful scenery, the town’s hustle and bustle, her cheerful home life, and the feeling that her father worked close by in the mountain while she was at school. But everything changed the day her father lost a leg in a disastrous mining accident. 

Gone was the cheerful father who filled the house with his music, laughter, and whimsical wood carvings that the family fondly thought of as “reminders” of special moments. In his place was a despondent man who spent most his time sleeping and sitting silently at the kitchen table. No longer able to earn his miner’s wages, Mary’s father also despaired over his inability to financially support the family, and he had trouble accepting his wife’s decision to clean other people’s laundry in order to earn some badly-needed cash.

The accident, however, did not rob Mary of her inherent optimism and her craving for good cheer in the house. Would her father be able to get past his misfortune to see the potential in her clever idea for turning the situation around?  This work of historical fiction, based loosely on events in the lives of the author’s grandmother and great-grandfather, offers a portrait of the opportunities and risks of living and working in a mining town. The interesting story and expressive illustrations work well together to yield a compelling short novel that should appeal to a wide readership.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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