A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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