Monday, September 20, 2010

Wishing for Tomorrow by Hilary McKay

After Sara Crewe is rescued from her dismal life of servitude, what happens to her and the other girls at Miss Minchin's Seminary? These are questions countless generations of readers have asked since Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess was first published. (Note: A Little Princess was published in 1904. It is an expanded version of a serialized novel, Sara Crewe: or, What happened at Miss Minchin's boarding school, that Burnett published in 1888.)

Hilary McKay, a British author like Burnett, also wondered what happened when the book ended. So did her daughter. Out of that wondering, Wishing for Tomorrow was born. Now, we know what happened to Ermentrude, Lottie, Lavinia, and the rest of the girls at Miss Minchin's after Sara left.

What I thought: I was very excited to hear that this book was being published. Of Burnett's three famous works (I've only read A Little Princess and The Secret Garden), I prefer A Little Princess. I still have the copy I bought myself for a dollar. The pages are wrinkled where I dropped it in the bathtub when I was in high school. This book wasn't quite what I expected from a sequel. I assumed the sequel would follow Sara. How wrong I was. The action is at the school. The girls' adventures after Sara leaves are fun and endearing. I like that Ermentrude is forced into a central role. Her letters to Sara are great. I like them even more knowing that she doesn't mail them. They're for her. I liked this book and I'm happy to say that I think Hilary McKay wrote a fabulous book that both pays homage to a literary classic and stands on its own.

(Sequel to A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illus. Nick Maland. New York: Margaret K. McElderry, 2009)

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