“The sudden perking sound of a tractor starting woke Jenny. The first thing she saw was an airy curtain lifting lightly on an August morning breeze.”
So begins one of the most lyrical, gentle middle grade books I’ve ever read.
My favorite thing in the whole world (as you probably know) is sinking in to a truly good story and living there for a while. And I must say, I got that and more with Jenny Wren by Dawn L. Watkins from JourneyForth Publishing.
Fall in love with Jenny Wren
I don’t even know if I can do this book justice. It was the first book in JourneyForth’s catalog, and it continues to be very popular for a reason. If you want something to send you stumbling headlong right back into childhood, you have to read it. If you want your kids to appreciate Nature and Family and Belief, read it with them.
This post is sponsosed by JourneyForth. Though I was compensated for my time, all opinions are my own. That’s how I roll.
The story follows Jenny as she starts the 3rd grade in yet another foster home. But this one is special. The Logans live on a beautiful farm, and even though they’re elderly, they seem to genuinely care about Jenny–something she’s never before experienced. Mr. Logan, who asks her to call him Grandpa, allows Jenny to help him when he cuts trees from the forest, when he feeds and milks the cows, and he even allows her to sit on his retired old horse, Benjamin. Mrs. Logan (Grandma) needs help in the house. Jenny learns the benefits of hard work, good eating, and quiet time spent with people who care.
I mean, even the illustrations are gentle and beautiful.
There are character lessons peppered throughout all this gorgeousness and life lessons in general. I think my favorite part of all was when ‘Grandpa’ got a book on forestry to explain to Jenny how trees take turns owning the forest (meaning being predominant). After he explains to Jenny how it works she tells him, “You know everything.”
“No,” (he says) “But you can usually find what you want to know in a book.”
I mean, yeah yeah.
The meaning of family
This book, y’all. It reminded me of all those summery, spent-time-at-grandma’s-farm books I loved as a kid. It was a perfect April read–making me look forward to all the farm things to come and reminding that sometimes life really is just good. Hard, maybe. But good.
Because sometimes family starts from a different place. Sometimes people fit together even when it looks like they shouldn’t.
Jenny discovers a home when she never expected to. The Logans find a new child to love as their own.
Now if only the welfare people will stop interfering.
Letting love win
Disaster strikes the farm, making Jenny question everything. Hasn’t she already lost enough? Without thinking things through, she takes the school bus home to the young family welfare is considering moving her to. And though she is almost immediately homesick for the Logans, she’s opened a whole new can of worms for the welfare department.
Here’s the thing.
Government agencies try their best with what they have to work with. But they can’t always be right. Sometimes an elderly couple looks bad on paper, but sometimes they are just what a child needs. Jenny realizes her mistake immediately, but even that might not be soon enough.
I enjoyed this book so much, I passed it straight to the boys to read. Middle finished it in just 2 days, pronounced it “one of the best books” he’d ever read, and Littlest is now enjoying it thoroughly. They both loved the bits about the farm and thought Mr. Logan was very like their own grandfather. “They eat at the table like us,” Littlest said. Because kids like to be able to relate to the characters, and there’s plenty of opportunity for that in this wonderful book.
Jenny Wren gently reminds the reader that belief is important to life without ever being preachy. It is an easy read that teaches with poetic descriptions and tender moments. It is seriously a book for all ages and all backgrounds.
Because what better life lesson is there than that
P.S. JourneyForth offers a full novel study to accompany the book, so how rocked are you right now? You have to check this out!