by Rumer Godden
A lovely story that I fell into at once. It\’s about a brother and sister with busy parents, who live in London. The children have seen a number of nannies and house \”help\” come and go. They really like the new maid, Marta, who is a recent immigrant. But Marta is very unhappy and homesick. She tells them of some Ukranian customs, including how she used to keep an icon picture in her kitchen back home. The children fixate on the idea that if they can find an icon to help Marta feel at home, she won\’t leave like the previous helpers did. They search through London museums and specialty shops, but when they finally do find a suitable icon like the one Marta described, it is far too expensive for their pocket money. The girl is about to give up, but the boy stubbornly decides that he will make one. It\’s really delightful to read about his crafting: how he plans to make the picture, how he collects materials and enlists help from a few adults in the neighborhood, overcomes some setbacks, and the finally impression the image makes. Also wonderful is how real the characters all seem. The kids are naughty, kind and silly by turns. They do their best, make mistakes, keep going. Through the whole experience the boy goes from being rather aloof and unfriendly to finding ways to express how he cares about other people. I read it all in one day.
Rating: 3/5 89 pages, 1966