Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

One Fourth-Grader's Recommended Reading : True Stories, and Earthquakes Too : I AM LAVINA CUMMING, By Susan Lowell (Milkweed Editions: $14.95 cloth, $6.95 paper; 198 pp.)

January 30, 1994|Anna Kaufman | Anna Kaufman is a fourth-grader in Middleburg, Vt

When writer Susan Lowell was a child, her grandmother, Lavina Cumming, used to tell her stories about her own childhood. Lowell's book, "I Am Lavina Cumming," is based on those stories.

It tells the tale of a young girl who goes from a house full of men to a house full of women. After her mother dies, Lavina is sent from the family ranch in Arizona Territory to her aunt's house in Santa Cruz, Calif., because her father thinks she can't become a young lady without a woman around. The book follows Lavina's adventures and the tough decisions she has to make as she gets ready to ride the long road to womanhood.

Some of Lavina's most exciting adventures are also extra fun to read or listen to because we know they really happened. One of my favorites concerns the great San Francisco earthquake. Lavina is shaken from a sound sleep when a huge stone crashes through her window and the big red brick chimney collapses onto the roof of her small attic room. Pieces of plaster and bits of brick begin raining down on her!

This is all very excitingly and poetically described. So are the more personal parts of the story, one of which changes Lavina's life forever. It's the end of the school year, which means composition time. Lavina decides to write about the Cumming family motto, "Courage." After school that day, Lavina's teacher tells her that she is an exceptionally talented writer, and that she might consider skipping a grade. This helps Lavina make one of the most important choices a person has to make in a lifetime: She decides that she wants to become a school teacher.

I think that it's fun when you can learn history and read a good story at the same time. That's why I especially like this book. If you like history and reading, I'm sure you'll like "I Am Lavina Cumming," by Susan Lowell.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|