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Seven Stories Up



Sweet time-travel story teaches kids about the Depression.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn some details about the Depression here, especially in the background material the author includes. They'll also learn about 1987, the book's present day. The author concludes by encouraging readers to "do a little digging on your own...hunt for the details, starting with things you know you enjoy."

Positive messages

The importance of kindness: Annie teaches Molly to be kind directly; also, when Molly is offered friendship as a child, instead of being isolated and ignored she becomes a different, more loving person as an adult.

Positive role models

Annie and Molly don't always act like angels (Molly roller skates through a store, breaking a bunch of lamps, and then runs away, even hiding from a police officer), but their hearts are usually in the right place. Annie's kindness inspires Molly to be kind herself.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Annie teaches some orphan girls the rather racy lyrics to "Miss Lucy": ("BEHIND the 'frigerator / There was a piece of glass / Miss Lucy sat upon it / And cut her big fat..."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Seven Stories Up is a time-travel book with some historical details about the Depression. Characters Annie and Molly don't always act like angels (Molly gets in a skating accident and breaks a bunch of lamps in a store; Annie teaches some girls the "Miss Lucy" hand-clapping game, which includes some suggestive language), but their hearts are in the right place. Annie in particular works to teach Molly to be a kinder person. Two adult characters talk about going to take a smoke. A few products (Lucky Charms, SpaghettiOs) are mentioned.

What's the story?

Annie has never known her grandmother, but when her mother learns the old woman is dying, she takes her little girl to the once-fancy hotel her family has always owned and lived in. There, Annie briefly meets the mean, peculiar Molly before going to bed -- only to wake up back in time, at the hotel during the Depression. Her grandmother is a lonely little girl, locked SEVEN STORIES UP in the hotel and mostly ignored by her family because she's sickly. Annie befriends her, and the two go on adventures all over Baltimore, including to a fair; there Annie meets a fortune teller who tells her, "Now and then a thing needs to happen so badly the universe decides to rearrange itself." But what will happen to Annie as she starts to change her grandmother's fate? Can she ever get back to her own time?

Is it any good?


Seven Stories Up is simple and sweet; history-loving readers will enjoy traveling back in time with kind-hearted Annie and learning about the Depression. Some of the plot points -- such as Molly's maid being completely unconcerned about her charge running around with a stranger -- don't quite seem credible. Even so, the story may move parents to share their own family stories and have fun conversations about how much life has changed. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about historical fiction. What did you learn about life during the Depression from this story? Do you have family stories about that time?

  • If you were going to go back and visit your grandparents at some point in their lives, where (and when) would you go? What would life be like?

  • What if you could travel to any time period? What would you want to see?

Book details

Author:Laurel Snyder
Genre:Family Life
Topics:Friendship, Great girl role models, History
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:January 28, 2014
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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