Image © Zilpha Keatley Snyder, illustration by Daniel O’Leary.
At my age there are very few authors I started reading as a child who are still around. Snyder’s first book for young readers was published in 1964 when I was 13, her most recent came out in 2011. I own and have enjoyed most of them, this 1999 title is one I found recently.
Dani and her mother Linda are stuck in the small, poor desert town of Rattler Springs, Nevada in 1951, having been lured there by an inheritance that turned out to be essentially worthless land. Dani hates it and is determined to run away back to the northern California coast town where they used to live as soon as she can raise the bus fare. There are lots of complications, though, a primary one being Stormy, a learning disabled boy she’s befriended who lives with a much worse mother nearby and who wants to come with her. A husband and wife team of geologists come to town and offer to rent Linda’s property, giving them a real chance to get ahead of their debts, and their daughter Pixie soon joins Dani and Stormy in their runaway plans. Turns out her parents mostly ignore her, and she’s all for the adventure. Bully Ronnie Grabler does all he can to ruin their chances, and lots of other problems arise, but Dani is determined to make a break for it, especially after Stormy is badly beaten by his own mother.
Like all of Snyder’s books, this one has great characters and human insight and an engaging storyline. Recommended.