The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs - Betty G. Birney

I can't remember where I picked up The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs except that it was a sale book in the kids' section. I know at the time I thought the story sounded like a good one for us living in Tribune: Eben McAllister learns about the Seven Wonders of the World, and can't wait to leave the tiny town of Sassafras Springs, Missouri. So his dad sets him a challenge: if he can find seven wonders in Sassafras Springs, then Pa will let him take a trip out to Colorado to visit some relatives and see the mountains. I figured the book was going to be about discovering the beauty of his own town and growing to appreciate his surroundings.

Well, it took me a long time to finish the book. I read it to Robyn as a bedtime story, but my schedule these past few months has tended toward a very late bedtime, or Robyn's been gone, so we missed a lot of evenings. It's a story that takes place over the course of a single week, but it took me nearly half a year to read it. It's not a very long book, though: most of the days are two chapters long.

Eben and his dog Sal trek around town, asking everyone if they've got a Wonder to show him. Pretty soon word gets out that he's looking for Wonders and people start coming to him. The chapters alternate between the story of Eben's search, and then the townsfolk who have Wonders will tell their stories about them.

I think I was expecting him to find sort of warm fuzzy Wonders, an appreciation just for the town and its people, but Eben actually comes across some whoppers. It was a lot of fun to read, not knowing what the next story was going to be about, and while they might not compare to the Hanging Gardens or the Colossus of Rhodes, they are pretty wonderful. In the end, of course, Eben does have a deeper appreciation for Sassafras Springs but he doesn't lose his yearning to see the rest of the world, either.

The other thing I didn't know when I first bought the book was that it takes place in 1923, so things are a bit different. I think it would be really interesting to tell a similar story but in today's world. Would it still work in an age with YouTube and cable TV and Wikipedia? It's hard to say.

At any rate, it was an enjoyable book and I'm looking forward to reading it to Ridley eventually.

Fed to jonathan's brain | May 20, 2010 | Comments (0)


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