The Listening Tree by Celia Barker Lottridge

The Listening TreeNine-year-old Ellen and her mother have to leave their farm and go to live with her mother’s sister in Toronto. Her father left the farm to look for work when the drought made it impossible to earn a living on the farm. In Toronto, they are lucky because Aunt Gladys owns a boarding house and can afford to keep them. Ellen’s mother finds a job and Ellen helps her aunt with chores and is given the responsibility of tending the chickens just like back home.

Ellen is happy here but she misses her best friend and she is too shy to make friends with the neighbor children. She discovers that she can go out on the roof from her room and then out onto a tree branch and hear what the children are saying and watch what they are doing. One night, however, she hears men talking and realizes that they are planning to get the neighbors evicted so that one of the men can buy the house cheaply. This revelation motivates Ellen to meet the children next door and to help them devise a plan to keep the house.

Ellen is likable and the children are charming. The inhabitants of the boarding house are kind and interesting. In this present time of economic challenge, it is interesting to see what people coped with during the Great Depression and see how these children took active roles in helping their families.

Posted by: Fran W.

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