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.