Do you spend your days wishing for miracles?
Are miracles rare in your life?
Today, I would like to recommend a book, Miracles On Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. This book was published in 1956 and received the Newberry Award in 1957. It is written for children, probably ages 8-12, but has an underlying message for adults who have been a casualty of war—whether in real wars or through our earthly battles.
Children will love it for the descriptive images of making and eating maple sugar products and the animals intertwined in the story. They will enjoy reading about the antics of the main character, Marly, a ten-year-old girl and her twelve-year-old brother, Joe.
The setting is Pennsylvania, and the main theme of the story is— Marly’s father return’s from war where he had been held as a prisoner. He is a weak, easily irritated, very changed man. Everything makes him tired. But his wife and children support him, try to be quiet, and try to honor his needs.
The option arises for the family to move to Marly’s great-grandmother’s farm and work there for the spring and summer. They are hoping the fresh air, and being away from the city will help Marly’s dad recover. Even though he feels too tired to do the physical work anymore, he goes along with the plan.
They arrive at Maple Hill in March, get her dad set up in the house and leave him behind to clean the house, cut firewood for the wood stove, and start a garden. Marly, Joe, and their mother go back to the city so the children can finish out the school year, only visiting on weekends.
On one of their weekend visits, when Marly’s dad begins to sing again, they felt hope that he was healing. When he didn’t scold Marly for smoking up the kitchen while trying to light the old wood stove to surprise the family with a breakfast of pancakes, she knew a miracle was beginning to take place.
When Joe refuses to take Marly with him to explore the countryside at Maple Hill, their older neighbor, Mr. Chris, who has difficulty walking longer than a short distance, drives her to places then walks slowly and introduces her to birds, flowers, and trees. The author describes the woods and flowers so well, it makes you feel like you are walking with Mr. Chris and Marly in an enchanted forest.
This book honors the wisdom of the older generation and shows how they explored their surroundings and even made journals about the flowers they discovered and times the flowers bloomed. They passed this knowledge on to any children who wanted to learn.
Joe begins to take Marly with him on some of his explorations and they examine the homes of bugs with a magnifying glass and old seashells left behind in riverbeds.
When school let out for the summer, Marly enjoyed spending time with her dad in his garden.
Marly’s dad is recovering so well, the decision is made to stay permanently at Maple Hill. The book is full of warm, sweet, relationships between neighbors and friends. More than one miracle happens during the course of the story.
I highly recommend the book for adults and children. Reading it will take adults back to long forgotten childhood memories of what it was like to work, play, and explore outside. For children, it will encourage them to make their own adventures and experience life’s miracles.