Miriam's Secret

  • Pages:208
  • Publisher:Orca Book Publishers
  • Themes:historical fiction, underground railroad, novels about the Great Depression, importance of friendship, Jewish main character
  • Available:10/17/2017
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 9-12
  • Lexile:660L
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:U
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In 1930 nine-year-old Miriam travels by train from Brooklyn to her grandparents' farm in upstate New York.

Her grandparents are kind, generous people, but they aren't exactly ideal playmates for a lonely girl. When Miriam is not doing homework in the kitchen with Bubby or helping prepare meals for the migrant workers that Zayde hires to help out on the farm, she plays with the barn kittens born just before she arrived. Those kittens are her only friends, until the day Miriam discovers a young girl hiding in the barn. Cissy and her brother, Joe, who's one of Zayde's farm hands, are on the run from an abusive uncle back in Mississippi. Miriam and Cissy hit it off immediately. But their friendship is tested when Miriam is forced to choose between keeping a promise and doing the right thing.

"A wonderful, tantalizing and tender tale about how, despite our differences, we all long for the same things: friendship, connection and a sense of purpose."
– Monique Polak, award-winning author of What World Is Left
"An endearing story about the power of acceptance."
– Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, award-winning author of Making Bombs for Hitler
"In this heart-warming novel about a secret friendship, Debby Waldman tells a story bound up in America's history of depression-era hobos. As Miriam grapples with keeping her friend's secret or doing the right thing, Waldman adeptly brings history alive, painting an engaging portrait of minorities in a small town and showing that cultural differences can bring people together."
– Leanne Lieberman, author of The Most Dangerous Thing
"A warmhearted holiday tale successfully portrays an underrepresented corner of American Judaism."
– Kirkus Review
"All will enjoy this gentle novel, which furthers goodwill and understanding. Highly Recommended. "
– CM Magazine
"Filled to the brim with literary devices like foreshadowing, imagery, and similes, this title will be a welcome addition to any elementary school teacher's language arts block…It also lends itself to a discussion of diversity and tolerance. Recommended"
– School Library Connection
"Waldman's gentle story speaks to the difficulties of being an ethnic or religious minority, as well as the travails of being underemployed during the Great Depression."
– Booklist
"The book is a nice read that includes a sort of comparison of lifestyles: rural versus urban, Northern United States versus Southern United States, and immigrant verses native-born. It also gives readers a nice peek into Jewish culture and traditions, from the Yiddish monikers for grandma and grandpa to the holidays of Purim and Passover to foods like Hamantaschen. The story provides the opportunity to teach children about secrets: knowing when it's ok to keep a secret and knowing when they need to tell a trusted adult."
– Resource Links
"Waldman's warm, loving depiction of a Russian Jewish family during the Depression is a cozy read that will be treasured by young readers, many of whom will relate to the fish-out-of-water element of her story."
– IndiePicks Magazine
"Miriam's Secret is a fast-paced story that hooks the reader right from the start. It's the perfect friendship tale for ages 8 to 12."
– Jewish Book Council
Bank Street College of Education Children's Book Committee Best Children's Books of the Year   | 2018  |  Commended
CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens   | 2018  |  Commended
Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award   | 2018  |  Short-listed