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Miracles on Maple Hill

Miracles on Maple Hill

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Miracles on Maple Hill

4.5/5 (20 оценки)
184 pages
2 hours
Aug 1, 2003


1957 Newbery Medal Winner

Marly and her family share many adventures when they move from the city to a farmhouse on Maple Hill.
Aug 1, 2003

Об авторе

VIRGINIA SORENSEN (1912-1991) was born in Utah, and it was her family's own stories that influenced her early novels of the American West.

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Miracles on Maple Hill - Virginia Sorensen


Copyright © 1956 by Virginia Sorensen

Copyright renewed 1984 by Virginia Sorensen Waugh

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.


First Harcourt Young Classics edition 2003

First Odyssey Classics edition 1990

First published 1956

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Sorensen, Virginia Eggertsen, 1912–

Miracles on Maple Hill/Virginia Sorensen; illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush.

p. cm.

An Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic.

Summary: After her father returns from the war moody and tired, Marly’s family decides to move from the city to Maple Hill Farm in the Pennsylvania countryside, where they share many adventures that help restore their spirits and their bond with each other.

[1. Moving, Household—Fiction. 2. Family problems—Fiction. 3. Country life—Pennsylvania—Fiction. 4. Pennsylvania—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Krush, Beth, ill. II. Krush, Joe, ill. III. Title.

PZ7.S72Mi 2003

[Fic]—dc21 2003049939

ISBN 0-15-204719-0 ISBN 0-15-204718-2 (pb)

eISBN 978-0-547-54216-4


For Those Who Helped:

Harvey Kreitz, and

Waldo Bates, and

Royce Mallory—

And Remembering

Uncle Chris.


There’s All Outdoors

Mother, say the scoot-thing again, Marly said.

She slid forward in the car seat, talking right against her mother’s neck, over her coat collar. Say it just the way your grandma said it.

"Marly—again? Mother asked. And please don’t breathe down my neck, dear!" She was driving, and the road was narrow and snowy and worrisome.

"Just say it once more. The way she said it."

Marly noticed the look Mother gave Daddy who sat beside her in the front seat. She could tell that Mother was afraid Daddy would object to hearing the same thing over and over. He was more tired than usual, even. When he asked Mother to drive, he was always as tired as he could be. Now he sat with his eyes closed and his chin buried in the collar of his jacket.

But it was for him, really, that Marly wanted Mother to say the scoot-thing again. Maybe they didn’t think she knew why they were going to Maple Hill. But she did.

"Just once. I promise never to ask again. I promise," Marly said.

Her brother Joe turned from the window for a change. The whole way up from Pittsburgh he’d kept his face glued to it like an old fly. Why don’t you just say it to yourself? he asked. Mother’s said it ten hundred times.

"I want her to say it—just once."

If Joe asked her why she wanted Mother to say it, Marly couldn’t have told him. The truth was that when Mother said those certain words all the good feelings came back. Grandma’s whole house and yard and her whole Maple Hill were in those words, just the way Mother had described them ever since Marly could remember. Grandma was in them, too, with the way Mother said her voice was, like a bird’s voice if it pretended to be cross but really wasn’t. Mother was in them, too, but in a special way. Not the way she was now, but the way she had been when she was Marly’s age. Every summer she had come to visit her Grandma at Maple Hill, right here in Pennsylvania’s corner.

How so many things could be in a few words was something else Marly didn’t know. But it was the same way the whole feel of school can be in the sound of a bell ringing. Or the way the whole feeling of spring can be in one robin on a fence post.

Daddy opened his eyes. You might as well say it, Lee, and get it over with, he said. He did not look at Mother or at Marly or at anybody. He liked to do the driving himself, especially when a road was as bad as this. But he was too tired. Soon after he had come home, while people were still marveling that he had come back at all after being a soldier and a prisoner and everything, Marly had heard him say to Mother, I think I’m going to be tired forever.

But Mother had answered, Of course you won’t. You know, Dale, I’ve been thinking—we could go up to that old place of Grandma’s, Maple Hill. What you need is all outdoors for a while.

"Honestly, Marly, I don’t see—" Mother began. But she sighed, and then she said it. For a long time when Marly was little, she had corrected Mother every time any one of the words was the least bit different, so now Mother always said it exactly right. Every syllable. Every other word had to come strong, as in a nursery rhyme:

"Now scoot, you two, for goodness’ sakes! Up here, there’s all outdoors!"

There! Marly sat back again. If there was all outdoors, there couldn’t be very much indoors where all the trouble was. She could see the little old woman in a blue dress and a white apron, with her broom in her hand. She was pretending to sweep the children out, as Mother said, because they kept hanging around the house after they arrived. The first time Mother told about it, a long time ago, Marly had asked, Why did you hang around? Why didn’t you go outside and play? Mother laughed and said, Grandma thought it was because we were too used to being penned up in town. We were so used to having walls around us and ceilings over us that the sky and the country scared us to death. Grandma hated cities. We could hardly ever get her to come for a visit. She insisted that my brother and I come every summer, out to Maple Hill. She told us, ‘The only place worth a grain of salt is where a child can go out and run as he pleases.’

All outdoors! Marly stared out of the window on her side as Joe did on his.

Maybe, she thought, it wasn’t just because of the city. She could remember times that had been nice there, and happy, before Daddy ever went away. And even while he was gone, sometimes. Mother paid a lot of attention, and they went to the museum on Sunday afternoons and to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony and for picnics in the park. Everybody felt sorry for Mother because Daddy was missing, and nobody expected he would ever come back. But then he came.

She wouldn’t even think it was better before Daddy came back. Nobody must think such a terrible thing. But it was a worry. If a door slammed behind you, for instance, he’d shout, "Who slammed that door? You’d start to tell him the wind made it slam, but there wasn’t time. Mother always hurried in, saying, Ssssssh! Ssssssh! Ssssssh!"

Everything would be better in all outdoors. Mother expected it would be and it would. Already things looked better. For two hours the most wonderful outdoors, all hills and snow and big tall trees and farmhouses, had been going past the windows. Once in a while it was interrupted by a pretty little town, and then it began again.

Marly, Mother said anxiously, half turning her head but watching the road at the same time, you mustn’t expect it to be exactly the way I said. Grandma’s been gone from Maple Hill for nearly twenty years. Uncle John’s lived here off and on, but . . . Well, it’s an old run-down place. Not like these lovely farms on the road at all.

"I know that, Marly said. But we’re going to fix it up."

Those were the words Mother used when Marly first heard them talking about it. Daddy had jumped the way he did sometimes and said, You mean it’s going to fix me up!

Dale, I didn’t say that.

You meant it.

Well, all right then, Mother had said, going red in the face. Why shouldn’t we say it right out? I’m hoping it will.

That had been just a little while ago, during the Christmas holidays. You expected everything to be wonderful at Christmastime, and the town was wonderful, with colored lights and decorated trees in every direction. Marvelous things were piled in every window along the streets downtown, and big organ music made the sidewalks sort of tremble. But this year something had gone wrong with everything. Daddy didn’t even come from his room Christmas morning to see the presents. Mother had explained, trying to smile. He was tired and hurt and not really cross. He was sick and discouraged, not angry at them or at anybody. There was a lot of difference, Mother said.

Of course it was true. But the house felt ugly and tight. Joe went off with his crowd right after breakfast. During the holidays he found someplace to go every day.

Once when they began to talk about coming to Maple Hill, Daddy had said, I don’t know whether I can do it, Lee. All that wood to cut and everything. Do you think I can swing an ax anymore?

Why, of course, Mother said. And Joe can help. He’s twelve, isn’t he? That’s just the age Grandma used to say kids stopped being a nuisance and started being useful.

In two years I’ll be twelve, too! Marly had thought. She was so interested in imagining the piles and piles of kindlings she would cut that she forgot to listen to what Mother and Daddy said next. She was reaching up in her mind to put a piece of wood on a pile higher than her head. But then Mother said something so interesting and wonderful she couldn’t help hearing it. When I was a little girl up at Grandma’s, Mother said, I was certain that Maple Hill was the place where all the miracles had happened.

Daddy didn’t laugh. For a minute it was as if the two of them were holding their breath together. Then Daddy said, I’m afraid miracles don’t happen anymore—even at Maple Hill.

We’ll go find out, Mother said.

That was soon after Christmas. Now it was March, and here they were, going to find out.

It’s not very far from here, Mother said.

Now all outdoors seemed to be mostly trees close along the road. There were bare limbs that bent against the car, scraping as it passed, brushing off their snow. Hemlocks were like frosted green. Mother shifted gears, and the car was a big black noise in the middle of a huge white quietness.

What a hill! Mother said. I’m not even sure this car is going to make it.

They all leaned forward as if that might help somehow. The car was really struggling. I’ve heard stories about these spring roads! Mother said, pretending not to mind. But it was always summer when I came, and I never believed them.

The car stood still, then, its wheels singing and whirling. Marly saw Daddy’s face set hard, the way it always did when he was angry or upset. His cheeks sank in, and she could see his heart beating in his neck. Mother stepped on the gas, and the wheels sang still louder and the engine roared like a truck.

Shall I get out and push? Joe asked eagerly.

That’s all we need, Daddy said in an angry voice. Just Joe to get out and push!

Joe’s face went red. Daddy’s was white. Mother roared the engine louder and louder.

Stop it, Lee. You’ll only spin the wheels, Daddy said.

When the sound of the car died, silence was suddenly everywhere. It seemed coming and going in every direction, and they were in the middle of it. The front of the car tipped upward on the bare beginning of the long hill.

It can’t be far to Chris’s place now, Mother said. They can probably pull us out. People here are used to such things.

We didn’t even think to get chains, Daddy said. What farmers we’ll be!

Mother— Marly began, but Joe interrupted her. He said just what she’d meant to say, except that he said I and she had meant to say we.

Mother, I’ll get my boots on and go ahead and tell ’em, Joe said.

I’ll go too, Marly said.

Joe looked at her in a superior way. You’d just slow me down, he said. That was the way he talked to her lately, even when it wasn’t true. She never could say it wasn’t true, though, because every time it made an argument and Daddy thought every argument was a fight and had to be stopped instantly. He said there was plenty of fighting going on in the world without them doing any of it.

Mother hesitated. I don’t know what else— She looked at Daddy.

My boots are in the trunk, Joe said, and out he went.

Mine are, too. Get mine, too! Marly cried.

He’ll be sopping wet before he even gets his boots on, Mother said. Who would have thought there’d still be snow like this up here? Her voice was worried. Daddy didn’t say one word. He just sat still, staring out of the windshield up the long hill.

Mother—Daddy—can’t I go, too? Joe knows I can go as fast as he can! He knows I can! Marly cried.

Hush now, Mother said. There’s no use both of you catching your death of cold.

Mother, we wouldn’t—

Don’t argue, Marly! Please! Mother said. She gave Marly the look that said: Now don’t talk about it anymore or you’ll worry Daddy again.


Marly! You heard what I said!

But, Mother—

Marly, don’t argue! Daddy’s voice was fierce.

Joe scrambled back in the car with his boots and pulled them on, jamming his jeans inside. How important he acted! You’d have thought he was the President of the United States or something. For a minute Marly hated

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  • (4/5)
    Marly's dad is having a hard time adjusting when he returns to Pennsylvania after being held as a prisoner of war during WWII. To find space for healing, ten year old Marly and her family move to the family's old farmhouse on Maple Hill in rural Pennsylvania. The book chronicles their first year spent on Maple Hill, looking for everyday miracles in nature and their family. There is a lot of talk about maple sugaring in this book, and it was interesting to learn about. What I appreciated more was the use of maple sugaring and spring in general as a metaphor for rebirth and renewal. As spring arrives, the sap flows, the wildflowers bloom, and Marly's father begins to smile and sing again. The restorative and rejuvenating powers of both nature and meaningful work were captured very well in this book.I wasn't particularly drawn to the characters of Marly and her brother, but I did like the family dynamic. You could tell they all loved each other a lot, and the dad was just so sad and broken and everyone was so unsure of how to help him. This was my favorite aspect of the book, but it really wasn't fully explored, I guess because it is some pretty heavy stuff and this is a children's book. There are a lot of the classic children book elements that got a little tedious: outdoor adventures, a girl proving her strength and bravery to her brother, the scary hermit who is actually a misunderstood good guy. Overall, one of the better Newbery books. (1957)I think I've started rating Newbery winners on their own scale. This is a three star book, but a four star Newbery.
  • (4/5)
    This 1957 Newbery medal winner is a delightful, slow walk into a time when old fashioned values were the norm -- a time when children were polite; a time when children respected parents; a time when neighbors helped one another; a time when there was less focus on "me" and more focus on "us".Yet, the book is timeless in addressing issues that are still with us today. Marly's father returns from the war, while the specific war isn't mentioned, one can assume WWII. Marly's father was a POW and is deeply emotionally tramatized with post tramatic stress.Leaving the city life behind, the family moves back to the family home in rural Pennsylvania. They arrive during the time when the maple sugar is flowing from the trees. A gentle neighbor friend shows them the joys of capturing the maple and processing it.While the book is corny and perhaps some would say hokey, I enjoyed it for the wonderful message of the healing powers of nature and the joys of life simply embraced when leaving behind the chaos of a frantic life style.
  • (5/5)
    Ten-year-old Marley lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her father Dale, mother Lee, and twelve-year-old brother Joe. Her dad has come home from having been a prisoner during the war, but he’s not the same. He’s moody and tired and seems as cold and dead as the winter outside. So the family decides to spend the spring and summer at Maple Hill Farm, the old place where Marley’s great-grandmother had lived and where Marley’s mother used to visit as a child, up in the corner of Pennsylvania’s countryside. There they meet Mr. and Mrs. Chris, Grandma’s neighbors whom Marley’s mother remembers from her childhood visits. At first, Marley and Joe are afraid that they will miss their life in the city. Joe had wanted to join the bad at his city school, but the little school at Maple Hill doesn’t have a band. But they begin to have many adventures sugaring with the Chrises, fixing up the old house, and experiencing other “miracles.” Will Daddy get any better? Will Marley’s family return to Pittsburgh or will they decide to stay at Maple Hill? And when Mr. Chris gets very sick and has to go to the hospital, what will happen to him? This 1957 Newbery Medal winner is a delightful story that is deserving of the award. There are a couple of common euphemisms—gee and golly, one reference to chewing tobacco, and a mention of glaciers “millions of years ago.” I especially enjoyed the way the truant officer ended up handling the time when Marley and Joe were kept home from school to help the Chrises with their maple sugaring. A couple of reviewers said that the role model for girls is horrific because the girl is weak, cries, moans, etc., and that the sexist stereotypes made it difficult to stay with the story because Marly and her mother do ‘woman things’ at the house together. I can see how a femi-nazi or someone raised on femi-nazi propaganda would reach this kind of conclusion, but honestly it gets old hearing those who may disagree with traditional roles for boys and girls yell “sexism” every time they don’t like the way girls are portrayed. Not every family is raising their daughters to be “I am woman, hear me roar.” And recent studies have suggested an actual biological basis for some of the emotional differences between males and females. Most of the reader reviewers liked the book, except the one mentioned previously and a couple of “kid reviews” which said that the book was too boring and not exciting enough. Of course, every book, even a good one, may not appeal to all people. However, my experience is that a lot of kids whose minds have been numbed by the helter-skelter, hooey-phooey, hocus-pocus, harum-scarum, hokey-fenokee type of stories like Harry Potter and Goosebumps often don’t have enough attention span left to enjoy a real story. I would recommend Miracles on Maple Hill as a book which chronicles the joys of simple living.
  • (4/5)
    This is the kind of book I was afraid I was in for when I decided to read the Newbery books. The truth is that it was and it wasn’t. A white family, looking at the world, saying, “Oh gosh,” and “Oh golly,” facing issues like the son staying out too late and wondering where he is, facing how to get the big maple sugar crop in before it ruins, and lots and lots of “You can’t do that; you’re a girl.”But it was also more. Dad was thought killed after time in a war camp, but he returns home, safe but scarred. Marly, the ten-year-old daughter, doesn’t listen to all the warnings about girls being unable to do things. Moving to the country heals. The family develops a deep friendship with an elderly couple nearby. The couple is warm and loving, but does not come across as overly false.The details about maple sugaring are fun and new. The family heals, and reading about that process feels good. Yes, there are (sorry) sappy parts, but they, too, feel part of the time in which the story was written. Refreshing, somehow.
  • (4/5)
    This is a simple tale of the healing miracles of rural living and the work and friendships that Marly's family found. Ms. Sorensen addresses such ideas as the paradox between hunting and valuing life, the damages of war and the healing of nature, and learning to look beyond appearances and prejudices. Marly is an appealing character - wanting miracles to happen in her family, alternately annoyed with her older brother and then loving him more fiercely than ever. Watching Marly's family come together after the difficulties caused by the father's time during the war is a rewarding read.
  • (5/5)
    Marly's mother used to visit her grandmother on Maple Hill, where there was all the outdoors to play in, and where you might say that miracles happen. Now, Marly's mother has inherited the little house on Maple Hill, and Marly and her family are going to spend some time there -- weekends, and then the summer -- and Marly is hoping for a miracle. Her father came home from the war with deep psychological wounds, and life in their city apartment is not helping him recover. Maybe at Maple Hill, where there is work to be done in the fresh country air, their family can come together and be as they once were. Arriving in the early spring, Marly's family is introduced to the almost magical (but labor-intensive) process of collecting maple sap and converting it into syrup. They learn this, and many other useful things about country life, from their neighbor, Mr. Chris. Are there still miracles on Maple Hill? Marly is about to find out.I enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons. It's what some people think of as a "typical" Newbery (though there are plenty that break the mold): female protagonist, rich writing and character development, not a lot of plot. I like that sort of story if the writing is truly good enough to draw you in, and it certainly is in this case. However, readers who enjoy a more action-packed narrative might get impatient with this story, which reads like a long, leisurely hike through the woods. I also appreciated the wealth of detail about maple sugaring (a process I have been involved in at my own grandparents' Pennsylvania farm, so I can attest to the accuracy of the description) and all of the nature description. The writing reminded me of Madeleine L'Engle -- perhaps not surprising, since this is a story from a similar era; only five years separate this book and A Wrinkle in Time. (L'Engle usually has a bit more in they way of plot, though, I would say.) I'm not sure how well or poorly this book handles the depiction of Marly's father's PTSD, since I don't have a great deal of knowledge on the subject. I will say, though, that any improvement he saw was not immediate, but was a slow process, aided, perhaps, by peace and work. Judging by the year of the book's publication, I'm guessing that the war her father served in was the Korean War, though I suppose it might have been WWII. My grandfather served in Korea, so that was another personal connection I made with this book. It was just the right book for me, so I would recommend it to readers who like the same sorts of contemplative, character-driven narratives that I enjoy.
  • (5/5)
    A fantastic cozy feeling throughout the whole book. I read the entire thing curled up under a blanket! I loved the character of Marly - such a clever and big-hearted girl, with a sympathetic point of view. Finally, I really enjoyed Sorensen's simple style. The scenes said just enough, no more. My quibbles would be (1) the dated writing (all that talk of what girls can't do!), and (2) the lack of a life-changing theme. I felt like the "miracles" theme could have been intensified and developed a bit more. But a very beautiful book nonetheless!
  • (2/5)
    My kids did not like this book. The author spends quite a bit of time detailing the various plant life on a Pennsylvania mountain. The action is slow.
  • (3/5)
    Sweet as maple sugar. Reminds me a bit of Heidi--nature heals.
  • (3/5)
    Have not finished listening to it yet, but I rather like it so far. Its a 'sweet' story, and seems to have an innocence unlike most modern books. Its well acted and well read, making for a nice listen while knitting or cross-stitching. Definitely for children or young readers, but still pleasant for adults who are 'young at heart' as well. Definitely a nice addition to this company's collection.
  • (4/5)
    Delightful story set right after WWII. Marly's dad comes home from the war and he's sad and mad by turns. The family relocates to Maple Hill, where they become immersed in the country life and learn about maple syrup and neighborly connections. Sweet but not treacly, and full of believable miracles.
  • (5/5)
    Writing: 4.5; Very readable from this Newberry author; Theme: 4.5; A family of four move to Maple Hill so that the father will grow stronger and heal from his health issues and in the process of time, Marly (the daughter), discovers miracle after miracle while living on this piece of land; Content: 5.0; Nothing objectionable, Language: 5.0; Nothing objectionable. Overall: 4.5; Interesting and inspirational youth novel that won the Newbery Medal in 1957. Highly recommend. ***March 15, 2020***