Check out this cover of Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder, (2014, 240 pages). Isn’t it brimming with sweetness and innocence? So’s the story. There’s even a kitten. I expected to enjoy this book, as I liked Any Which Wall by the same author (my review), and I did.
Summary from Goodreads:
Annie has never even met her grandmother before. In fact, she’s never had much family to speak of. So when she and her mother pull into the drive of her grandmother’s home in Baltimore, Annie can hardly contain her excitement!
But when she actually meets her grandma, the bitter old woman doesn’t seem like someone Annie could ever love, or miss. Until one magical, stormy night changes everything.
It’s impossible that Annie could have jumped back in time. . . right? But here she is in 1937— the year her grandmother was just her age!
Molly is an invalid. She lives by herself, on the top floor of a hotel. She seems a little lonely, but friendly and fun, nothing like the horrible old woman Annie just met.
Annie entices Molly down from her room, and together the two girls roam. They sneak around the grand hotel, and explore the brick streets of old Baltimore. Carnivals and taxis, midnight raids on the kitchen. The two grow closer.
But as Molly becomes bolder, and ventures further from the safety of her room, Annie begins to wonder how she’ll ever get back home. Maybe she’s changed the past a little too much. . .
The story is set in a fancy hotel, in 1937 Baltimore. I thought the setting of Any Which Wall was more original than the one in this book. In AWW the author evoked the languor of slow summer days in the midwest really well. I wasn’t as interested in the hotel setting where the girls spent most of their time. I felt like the author was trying to appeal to the having-the-run-of-a-fancy-hotel fantasy, which judging from Eloise and the Disney channel, seems popular, although is not one I share. However, the glimpses we got of depression-era Baltimore were interesting.
Time travel takes a back seat to relationships in this story. Annie and Molly’s friendship is more exciting than average because the girls must hide it from Molly’s father. Plus, one girl is from the future. The girls’ interactions with a maid who works at the hotel add warmth to the book. The secret kitten is a great deal of fun. Annie and Molly are both admirable characters.
Seven Stories Up is the companion book to Bigger Than a Breadbox (2012). This story reminded me of The Magic Half (my review), and like that book seems best for younger middle grade readers. I think this gentle story will appeal to girls more than boys.
Seven Stories Up has a Facebook page (here) and it’s fantastic! Thoughtful reviews by other bloggers: Slatebreakers, Styling Librarian, and Story Time Secrets, in which the relationship between Seven Stories Up and Bigger than a Breadbox is explained.