What’s this book about?
The schoolmaster says nine-year-old Benjamin is the finest student he’s ever seen—fit for more than farming; destined for great things someday. But his father’s grave illness brings Ben home, from school and compels him to strive for something great right now—to do the one thing that will please Father so much he’ll want to live. But first Ben must convince his older sister and brother to work with him. And together, they succeed in ways they never dreamed possible.
Story Behind the Story
Many people, like myself, find old barns attractive. It’s not just the weathered architecture: I sense the traces of many hands, many beasts, crops, the working lives, all of which grow old with grace and dignity.
One day I was in northern California, looking at such an old barn. Actually, I was doing more than looking at it; I was photographing it. Across the way was a house. A woman stepped outside, and from her porch, called out, “Like that barn?”
“There’s a story about it. Want to hear?”
Awards and Recognition
- ALA Notable, 1995
- IRA Teacher’s Choice, 1995
- Bank Street Children’s Books of the year, “outstanding,” 1994
- Starred, focus Review, Booklist, 1994
- American Bookseller, Pick of the Lists, 1994
- New York Public Library, Best Books of the Year, 1994
- Booklist, Best Books of the year, 1994
- Editor’s Choice, Booklist, 1994
- CCBC Choice, 1994
- VOYA, Outstanding Book, 1994
- ABC Children’s Booksellers’ Choice, 1995
“Avi is one of our most versatile and prolific children’s writers. He never does the same thing twice, always experimenting with form and theme and setting, from thriller and realistic fiction to radio play and graphic novel. This small, beautiful historical novel has a timeless simplicity. It’s the best thing he’s done. Like MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985), the story reaches from home to the universe.” (Booklist, starred review)