Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little

Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2009     ISBN: 1935279157

It’s a few days before Christmas, and sixth-grader, Min, is being evicted from yet another foster home, not for anything she did, but because she and her foster mother Enid never hit it off–not that Min planned to try to hit it off with anyone anymore. Abandoned as a toddler by a woman who insisted she wasn’t Min’s mother (though how Min remembers this is unrealistic), Min has no idea who she is. All she knows is that she doesn’t belong anywhere, has no family, and no friends, other than Mrs. Willis from the Children’s Aid, who has always been kind and gentle with her. But even Mrs. Willis isn’t party to Min’s confidences, feelings, or tears–not that she indulges in the latter.

When Min and Enid arrive at Children’s Aid, Enid shuts herself in with Mrs. Willis, and begins to defend her decision to bring Min back. The discussion between the two becomes heated, the door swings open part way, and Min hears almost everything. Part way through this scene Dr. Jess Hart, who has been a Children’s Aid physician, and whom Min recognizes when she had pneumonia, arrives, and sits down next to Min. When Enid finally resorts to blaming Min for somehow failing to make it in her previous placements, Dr. Hart leaps up and bursts into the room, and begins bellowing at Enid, telling her that if Min were an adult she could sue her for slander. She then goes on to announce that she is taking Min home with her immediately–for as long as Min cares to stay with her. Mrs. Willis puts up a feeble protest, after all, who can she find to take Min at the last minute and right before the holidays.

Min is in shock, but remembering Dr Hart as a kind presence from when she was hospitalized, she is ready to go along with her. She realizes she feels safe for the first time.

With some minor ups and downs, Min and Jess (Dr. Hart) adjust to each other, and Min, all too quickly to be realistic, begins to open up . Starting at a new school after the holidays, Min makes friends for the first time. When Jess asks her if she can adopt her, Min is, of course, delighted, and the book ends on this happy note.

The only problem with this book is that it’s a child’s dream come true, and bears little resemblance to the experiences of real children in foster care.

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Filed under *** A good read, Grades 5 - 6

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