A Million Ways Home, by Dianna Winget, shares the inspirational story of Poppy, a girl dealing with several traumatic events in her life. Grandma Beth has cared for Poppy ever since her parents died many years before. When Grandma Beth suffers a stroke, Poppy finds herself in a children’s home, confused and alone. While trying to get across town to visit her grandmother, she gets lost and ends up witnessing a murder suspect as he flees the seen of the crime. In an effort to protect her from danger, Poppy is temporarily placed with a family until the suspect can be apprehended. While there, she struggles to deal with her grandmother’s declining health. At the same time, she begins to blossom as she realizes her own ability to help her friends…both people and animals.
While Poppy’s story is unfolding, we see a vulnerable young girl struggle with her identity. While not a traditional foster care situation, it does resemble those difficulties kids face as their whole lives are disrupted and all that is familiar is torn away. She becomes friends with another girl who has been labeled as a trouble maker and been in trouble with the law. Together, they help each other sort through broken pieces of their lives. They also form a strong bond of friendship as each one encourages and appreciates the other despite their flaws. Additionally, together these two troubled kids find a mutual mission trying to rescue a dog destined to be put to sleep.
The target age for this book is around 8-12 years old. Strong themes of friendship, kindness and perseverance make this a story that will resonate with nearly anyone this age. The author did an excellent job of demonstrating what a positive support system for kids looks like and how law enforcement and child protective services participate in protecting people and bringing criminals to justice. Additionally, the responsible adults caring for Poppy were both firm and understanding in less than ideal circumstances. It would be an excellent book for vulnerable kids as it gives clear examples of what a caring adult looks like in difficult situations.
After I finished this book, I handed it off to my 11-year-old adopted daughter. She couldn’t put it down, telling me over and over again how much she loved it. I’m sure it would be enjoyed by most other kids in the late elementary to middle school years.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Scholastic Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.