Daddy opened his eyes…He did not look at Mother or at Marly or at anybody…he was so 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…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 any more — 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.
Ten-year-old Marly has her hopes pinned on a miracle — the miracle of restoration for her Dad who has returned from being a prisoner-of-war a changed man. Cross. Tired. Withdrawn. And a miracle of rejuvenation for her Mother, who has grown worn and worried with the cares of her family weighing heavily on her shoulders. The miracle spot: an old farmhouse in the maple-wooded hills of Pennsylvania. There, with the quiet beauty of all the outdoors, is where everything simply must begin new, according to Marly’s wish.
The first person they meet is Mr. Chris, a hearty man with decades of outdoor living under his belt and an expertise in maple syruping that has made him famous far and wide. Mr. Chris shares Marly’s notion of miracles, and together they begin to count them. The miracle of spring beauties bursting from under the leaf mould in white splendor. The miracle of sap rising in the trees every year. The gradual miracle of Daddy’s growing strength and happiness.
As the months pass, Marly and her brother, Joe, make many discoveries in the neighborhood of Maple Hill — a crusty hermit and his dairy goats; a den of graceful foxes; new schoolmates; thickets of wild berries to pick. Everything is going along swimmingly, when suddenly, they all find themselves in need of the biggest miracle of all.
Virginia Sorensen won the Newbery Medal in 1957 for this book. It is a pleasant read, perhaps with a bit of the feel of a Hallmark movie to it. My favorite aspect is the emphasis on the wonders that “all outdoors” and simple living can do for all of us, perhaps particularly the shattered people of our world. Good family read-aloud fitting a wide age-range.
Here’s an Amazon link: Miracles on Maple Hill