Monday, December 2, 2013

The Four Seasons of Patrick by Susan Hughes

It's the start of winter, and nine-year-old Patrick is beginning to feel crowded out of his own family.  His father's friend, Linda, and her seven-year-old daughter, Claire, are here for dinner again.  Then spring comes.  Not only is Patrick's father planning to marry Linda, but she and Claire will be coming to live with them at the summer's end.  That just won't do.

So Patrick comes up with a big idea.  He'll build a tree house where he can stretch out his arms and breathe.  But wait.  Will his father allow it?  Where will he find the perfect tree?  Who will give him a hand with the construction?  And, most importantly, will his own tree house really be the hideaway he hopes for, especially from the irritating Claire?  (taken from the back of the book)

Even without the important message behind it, this is such a cute story!  It follows a year in Patrick's life and the characters are just as charming as can be.  I had a blast reading it.  It only took me a few moments, but for a 6-9 year old, this is about the right length. 

Patrick is still dealing with the loss of his mom, and then his dad has to go and change the family dynamic again.  That's a lot of change for a kid to deal with.  Patrick shares with us his innermost thoughts on the subject but we also get to see him acting out. Basically, he's a normal kid that's dealing with a lot in the best way he knows how.  Soon, Patrick learns to look past his own feelings and see that others are having a difficult transition as well.

Given the staggering amount of 'broken' families, this is really a great book for kids.  It deals with the loss of a parent as well as learning to accept a new one.  It covers most family paradigm changes.  Kids will enjoy the frolicking and play and sympathize with Patrick. 

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