There’s something old-timey about Ann M. Martin’s Main Street series, and as I read book 3, ‘Tis the Season (you can listen to an excerpt here!), I struggled to put my finger on it. Maybe because it’s set in a small, almost retro-feeling town called Camden Falls; maybe because no one seems to use cell phones or even computers. Or maybe it’s because the challenges the characters face feel timeless — as if the series could be set in the early 1900′s rather than here and now.
Flora and Ruby are the two main characters of Main Street. They are orphan sisters who in book 1 moved into their grandmother Min’s house in the idyllic Camden Falls (idyllic only if you enjoy small towns where everyone knows everyone else!). They’re supported by a large cast of characters, both young and old, and we readers are given ample glimpses into almost everyone’s minds.
In ‘Tis the Season, Flora and Ruby are excited about the holiday season and all the magic that Camden Falls has to offer, yet their excitement is tinged with sadness too. It’s their first holiday season without their parents, and everything is different; plus, their aunt is coming to town, and she doesn’t seem to like spending much time with the girls.
Meanwhile, there are lots of events and parties happening at Needle & Thread, Min’s sewing shop in the center of town, so Flora and Ruby (along with their best friends, Olivia and Nikki) are busy helping out.
Both Olivia and Nikki are dealing with their own struggles in ‘Tis the Season as well. Olivia’s parents, who have both been out of work, are considering moving the family out of Camden Falls, while Nikki’s father (though he’s not much of one) has left town with a promise to send money back. He doesn’t, though, and Nikki is worried about their family’s finances, whether her mother will be able to support them, and perhaps most of all, whether she can help make her little sister Mae’s Christmas dreams come true. (Her friends, and the town of Camden Falls, come to the rescue!)
If this sounds like a lot for one book to cover, it is! I was impressed with how much action was included in this title. Each chapter is jam-packed with events that help move the story forward. But there are some incredibly touching (yet subtle) moments, too — when Ruby wakes up to the hushed, gray light of the first snowfall of the season; when the girls tag along with their neighbor to visit the elder-care home his sick wife will soon be moving into; and when Min, at the end of the book, reflects back on how her now-bustling house used to be so quiet. Instead, now it’s full of life, noise, and energy.
Any Main Street fans out there? What do you think of book 3 ‘Tis the Season?
— Morgan, Scholastic staffer