Sev­en Sto­ries Up

  • Review
By – March 30, 2015

How do we remem­ber our grand­par­ents? How can we ever under­stand the world that they grew up in or the cir­cum­stances that formed their unique per­son­al­i­ties? Lau­rel Sny­der has cre­at­ed a time trav­el escapade that gives one fifth grade girl not only an adven­ture but the insight to reex­am­ine rela­tion­ships and the com­pas­sion and under­stand­ing to accept family. 

Annie and her moth­er trav­el to the sickbed of a matri­arch who still resides in the family’s long-ago grand hotel. After vis­it­ing with her grand­moth­er, Annie falls asleep only to wake up in 1937 in her grand­moth­er Molly’s hotel room where she then lived. Mol­ly has been con­fined to her room because she suf­fers from asth­ma and, at that time, there was no cure.” Annie does not real­ize that she has time- trav­eled to become her grandmother’s young friend until the pieces fall togeth­er and she is able to under­stand many of the rea­sons why her grand­moth­er has act­ed in cer­tain ways as an adult. Fear­ful she will change time by her action, Annie remains silent about her true iden­ti­ty. The adven­tures begin and Mol­ly and Annie devel­op a deep rela­tion­ship that leads to wild antics, fun, friend­ship and res­o­lu­tion of prob­lems with Molly’s father. Snyder’s research regard­ing the life of a 1937 child is 

well-achieved and his­tor­i­cal­ly accu­rate. In this hotel dream world, granddaughter 

and grand­moth­er are unit­ed and Annie is giv­en a rare gift of time with a loved one. As Annie’s dream ends and she wakes back in her own time, Mol­ly, her grand­moth­er has died. Annie is left with a deep­er under­stand­ing of her grand­moth­er. And, by the way (spoil­er alert), it is Mol­ly, Annie learns, who insist­ed that her grand­daugh­ter be named Annie, after her own child­hood best friend. 

Sev­en Sto­ries Up is a sol­id resource for class­rooms dis­cussing ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can life in urban areas, the results of the Depres­sion and the state of immi­grant city life. The book is not specif­i­cal­ly Jew­ish in con­tent, although ref­er­ences are made to chil­dren being sent to safe­ty in Amer­i­ca and the chang­ing pre-war busi­ness envi­ron­ment. Also shown are the wide eco­nom­ic dif­fer­ences between life at the hotel and life on the streets of Bal­ti­more in 1937

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12

Chris­tine Maas­dam holds a Mas­ters in Human­i­ties, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in Muse­um Stud­ies and Cul­tur­al Prop­er­ty Pro­tec­tion. She is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing her M.L.I.S. Her inter­ests are phi­los­o­phy and the impact of art and tech­nol­o­gy on culture.

Discussion Questions