Samantha's Reviews > Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story

Changes for Samantha by Valerie Tripp
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's review
Feb 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: popular-series
Read in February, 2012

Historically set in the winter of 1904, a young girl named Samantha Parkington sets out on a mission to find a solution for her friend Nellie. Nellie's parents had passed away from the flu, and she is sent to live with her Uncle, Mike O'Malley in downtown New York. Samantha has recently moved to New York City as well to live with her Aunt Cornelia and Uncle Gard. She quickly discovers that life in the city is not as charming as it was back in her hometown of Mount Bedford. When searching for the location of Nellie and her sisters, Samantha runs into an orphanage where Nellie and her sisters are staying. They were abandoned by their uncle and left with no other choice. This "home for girls" is not anyone's idea of a good home. The children are treated poorly, and visiting hours can only occur on Sundays. When the orphanage directress, Tusnelda Frouchy, threatens Nellie with separation from her sisters, Samantha courageously devises a plan to sneak Nellie and her sisters into her Aunt and Uncle's attic. Samantha successfully hides her secret for four days, until the house maid begins to become suspicious. Nellie and her sisters are discovered, and they begin to fear they will go back to the orphanage. Just as all hope seems lost, Samantha's Aunt and Uncle decide to adopt all of the girls as their own. To top off the warm ending, the new family joyfully celebrates their first Valentine's Day together!

The author does a wonderful job incorporating factual, historical content within a playful children's narrative. Samantha purchases chestnuts for only a penny! What could children buy for only a penny now, in 2012? To make a phone call, Uncle Gard, had to dial an operator. Telephones are mostly taken for granted in our current society. Also, the girls were playing with paper dolls. I would be curious to see how students would react to this kind of entertainment.
The chronological subject matter was not only presented within the story, but provided a summary at the end as well..."A Peek into the Past". This book can be presented as both fictional and non-fictional, giving children the opportunity to think on a variety of levels!

Though the story provides a great moral, the conclusion is highly unrealistic. I couldn't help but wonder why Samantha had to hide the girls, when her Aunt and Uncle were willing to adopt them all along? The readers spends so much time building up to the climax, but is abruptly given an ending within two pages.

The illustrations are reminiscent of what one would see in the time period the story was written. The images appear to be oil paintings. The warm tones of brown, red, and green are inviting and easy to decipher.

I would recommend this book/series to a 2nd-3rd grade student, depending on their reading capability. It is a wonderful tool for both enjoyment and instruction.

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