Title: Strawberry Hill
Author: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Wendy Anderson Halperin
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Concepts: Great Depression, jobs, inequality, discrimination, wealth, scarcity, class
Review: Allie knew her father was fortunate to have found a new job, but she had qualms about moving and leaving behind all that seemed comfortable and familiar, including her best friend. They had no choice, though, but to relocate. The Great Depression had taken away so many jobs and caused much hardship for other families. Yet Allie found some reassurance in the name of the new street: Strawberry Hill. She could just imagine the wide grassy slope, the stone wall, and all the fat juicy strawberries on the other side of the hill.
Reassurance turned to despondence on moving day, when it soon became apparent that the street could claim lots of homes packed together but no strawberries. Finding a new best friend also proved difficult and quickly led to heartbreak when another girl labeled her with an anti-Semitic slur. Allie slowly learned that finding contentment in her new home meant accepting kindness and support from unexpected sources as well as offering assistance when she herself could provide it.
Thoroughly engrained into this novel are some powerful yet subtle lessons not only about religious tensions, but also class differences caused in part by the social pressures and financial strains of the Great Depression. The story may revolve around a ten-year-old protagonist, but her experiences and maturation are communicated in a smart writing style that will appeal to a wide readership.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children