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The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,980 ratings  ·  314 reviews
Life in Sassafras Springs has always been predictable, boring even, but one afternoon that changes when Eben McAllister's pa challenges him to find Seven Wonders in Sassafras that rival the real Seven Wonders of the World. The reward? An adventure that Eben's been craving -- a trip to Colorado.

Even doesn't think he'll have any luck -- he can't think of one single thing
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1980)
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Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in rural Missouri during the 1920s, young Eben McAllister longs for the adventurous life that will allow him to see the “wonders” of the world.

I am grateful to my GR friend, Julie, for her enthusiastic discussion.

“The target age for this novel is 8-12 year olds, but I can tell you, I'm 42, and I liked it plenty.”

Older even than Julie, I also was charmed by this book. I will post a more complete review when I read it with my granddaughter.
The target age for this novel is 8-12 year olds, but I can tell you, I'm 42, and I liked it plenty. Set in the 1920s, it is blessedly violence-free (save a few typical threats from an ornery neighbor and one growling dog).

I think the 3rd-7th grade crowd (boys and girls equally) would love this excellent story-telling, character development and humor.

It will stay in our family's library, even after the kids are grown.

Well done!
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to read a light, breezy children's book
A charming, fun little book! It wasn't predictable or cliched, and I liked how it always remained quite upbeat and cheerful, even though it occasionally touches on things like loneliness and disappointment. I like the ending, too, and each of the wonders of Sassafras Springs were intriguing. The "fantastical" element is also nicely done; while not strictly "realistic," the stories and miracles people talk about in the book add a pleasant, whimsical, and sometimes moving, touch.
Sep 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by author Betty G. Birney is a heart-warming folk-tale that will inspire you to see more of what life has to offer you right around your own hometown. But only if you like drugged-out adventures with a ludicrous country bumpkin flare. This book is the equivalent of the Antiques Road Show meets Andy Griffith and Aunt Bee using a Ouija board to investigate the wacky stuff around Mayberry. Sound compelling? OK, I just made it sound way more interesting than it ...more
Lonna Pierce
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If any mid-grade novel can be perfect, this one is. When Eben, a farm boy in 1926 Sassafras Springs, Missouri sees nothing special in his one-horse town, he longs to leave and visit the Seven Wonders of the World he's read about in books: The Great Pyramids at Giza, Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of Zeus, Lighthouse at Alexandria, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Temple of Artemis, and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. His pa challenges Eben to find seven wonders in his own backyard; and if he can, his pa ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-with-gus
A good old fashioned story, with the moral of: every place- no matter how ordinary, small, or boring- has something special to offer. Sometimes you just have to dig a little.
Absolutely charming little chapter book for youngsters to either read themselves (4th grade and up) or have read to them. A young boy from a Missouri farm town dreams of traveling to Colorado and seeing the world, but first, his father challenges him to find seven extraordinary things in his own town before agreeing to the trip. My 4th grade granddaughter begged me to read this story, and I really enjoyed it.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I kind of loved the whole idea of this book - a young boy, who really wants to travel and see the world, is told to find "seven wonders" in his small hometown.

I've always been a big believer that there are awesome things everywhere. That's a beautiful theme.
I loved how the whole town became interested. This is a 3/4 BOB book, so I won't be using it in my classroom (I'm in 5th) but it would be an awesome idea to look for "seven wonders" in your own classroom. I might just do that for my class w
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this aloud to Keira, age 9 3/4, and we both found it lovely, gentle, and warm. It paints a vivid picture of early 20th century rural America, with apple pies cooking on windowsills, boys playing pranks, tall tales being passed around town, and long hours milking cows and working the land. My favorite “wonder” involved a haunted table that floated through a graveyard.
Helena Sorensen
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Instant hit with the kids. A treat from start to finish.
Nancy Hollingsworth
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Sweet. Read and listen to this one with your elementary age children.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Sometimes extraordinary things begin in ordinary places.” This is the lesson that eleven-year-old Eben McAllister is about to learn. Living with his Aunt Pretty and his Pa in the small farming community of Sassafras Springs, Missouri, in 1923, he longs for adventure beyond the hum-drum routine of farming life and spends his free time perusing a book about the Seven Wonders of the World. There certainly isn’t anything that interesting around Sassafras Springs. Or is there? Pa challenges Eben to ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved the pleasurable, completely undignified way that the story (or rather... stories) play out in "The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs".

When young Eben's father gives him a challenge to find 7 "Wonders" in their dusty little 1923 town of Sassafras Springs, Missouri, Eben isn't so sure that he can really discover that many Wonders. He only has been given 7 days to find these marvels, and he's quite sure that no Great Pyramid of Giza or Hanging Gardens of Babylon will be found in Sassafras
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a delightful read! I used this for a summer school theme for my kids ( and we had so much learning about the 7 World Wonders as well as finding Wonders in our own hometown!

The narrator was loveable and relatable, telling the story of being "bored" in his simple hometown and thinking that adventure only lay in the bigger world around him which was out of reach. The story was written beautifully, capturing the small town and era in such a realistic way. The charact
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My daughter and I greatly enjoyed our visit to Sassafras Springs, where young Eben, enchanted by a book on the seven wonders of the world, is challenged by his Pa to find seven wonders closer to home. That home is 20s rural Missouri and the wonders are wonderful, indeed almost mystic and mythical at times. The pace of the book is deliberate, but Eben is a generous narrator and the characters and stories he meets fill him with respect for the small town he thought he knew so well. It was good to ...more
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
neah its ok i guess... what am i sayin in sucks big time
May 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the look for "wonders" in sassafrass springs. I learned that everything is something great.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recently-re-read
I loved this book! I read it a long time ago though so I'm going to re read it. Normally I don't re read but this book was so good that I just have to re read it.
The Dusty Jacket
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
“Sometimes extraordinary things begin in ordinary places” and, according to 11-year old Eben McAllister, there is absolutely, positively NO place more ordinary than Sassafras Springs. On this particularly hot July day, while Eben is buried in his book about the Seven Wonders of the World, his father offers him a deal: find seven wonders in seven days in Sassafras Springs and he will buy Eben a ticket to Colorado. SEVEN? Eben can’t imagine even finding ONE Wonder let alone seven. But with a ticke ...more
Challice Neipp
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
“Does that book tell what a Wonder really is?”
I thumbed through the pages, back to the introduction. “Here it is. It says, ‘a marvel; that which arouses awe, astonishment, surprise or admiration.’”
Pa scratched his cheek with the dull side of his knife. “I’ve seen one or two things to admire around here. Maybe if you put out a little effort, you would too.”
I closed the book, “But what’s the point?”
“I just think there’s no use searching the world for Wonders when you can’t see the marvels right un
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a weird little book. I started off liking it - cute folksy story about a boy in a small town trying to find unusual things (wonders). I liked the idea that person can find something to wonder about right where he lives. Then, the first story (wonder) about a doll was a little odd, next one about a book case was even odder. Then I liked the story about the boy who played on a saw although it was somewhat unbelievable. Then the book became really weird with bizarre haunting story and I ga ...more
Maria Antonia
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I love the title of this book! And I love the premise. The story wasn't as engaging as I had hoped, but it was cute. And full of wacky and quirky characters.

Eben goes from neighbour to neighbour to search of seven wonders. I really like the character, the pesky Rae Ellen. Eben wants nothing to do with her or her "wonderful". I really wished that her story had been part of the climax of the book. Or that after agreeing that she actually does have a wonder, that Eben would have agreed to team up i
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quiet, simple story with magical realism. I enjoyed it as an audiobook especially, since the stories feel as though you should hear them out loud like the main character is. As usual, I wondered, “Why is this character’s mother dead? Why can’t this exact same story happen with two living parents?”
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I read this on my own I probably would have given it four stars because the colloquial tone was a bit much for me, but I read it to 3 of my children (ages 8,6, and 4) and they LOVED it. It's a sweet American story (Tall Tale) about everyday miracles. My children ate it up and now want to know the real seven wonders of the world and of course get MORE books about wonders.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this aloud to my three sons (ages 4, 12, 14), and they all enjoyed it. It is quirky and fun as the author makes up wonders that no one would truly consider wonders, but that are considered just that in the small town of Sassafrass Springs. Eben's treasure hunt helps the people in the town open up and connect with each other, and it's a beautiful story. Slow moving but nice.
This book has been on my list for quite some time. I originally put a lot of children's books on my to-read list as a way to remember what book to read to my kids as they grew. This is one we never got to. It's a simple message of appreciating what is around you and not everything or everyone is what they appear to be.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a the last Battle of the Books book that I read with my 3rd grader for this year. It was a bit strange but still a fun read. I loved the idea of looking for "wonders" right where you are. Some of the stories we really liked-- but some were a little spooky for him. Overall a good story that I would probably read again with my younger kids as they reach this age.

I have quite enjoyed this Battle of the Books challenge as it has had us pick up books we probably never would have chosen on ou
Lynn  Davidson
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Eben lives in small town Sassafras Springs. When he learns about the seven wonders of the world, he is challenged by his father to find seven wonders in Sassafras Sprinsg. Even sets out to do that.
This is a great story which I listened to on three cds.
Ken Jurish
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Fine. OK. Nice. A Hallmark channel movie for kids. Truly. Nothing bad ever happens. Small town 1920s Missouri. Thought it would be better than it was as was recommended to be by someone whose taste I trust implicitly. Oh well. At least it only took me two hours.
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From kindergarten through graduation, I attended school in Affton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Then I graduated from Webster College (now Webster University) in Webster Groves, Missouri. Of course, I majored in English and kept on writing.

After working in advertising in St. Louis, Missouri and in Chicago, Illinois, I eventually moved to Southern California. First, I worked for Disneyland (fun

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