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The Seven Wonder of Sassafras Springs Paperback – Jul 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; New title edition (July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689871368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689871368
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,959,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Betty G. Birney worked at Disneyland for many years, has written several children's television shows and is the author of over twenty-five books, including the best-selling The World According to Humphrey, which won the Richard and Judy Children's Book Club, Friendship According to Humphrey, Trouble According to Humphrey, Surprises According to Humphrey and More Adventures According to Humphrey. Her work has won many awards, including an Emmy and three Humanitas Prizes. She lives in America with her husband.

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Review

In this fun, folksy outing set in 1923, 12-year-old Eben McAllister has seven days to find seven wonders in Sassafras Springs, Mo. Convinced that his ordinary berg has nothing on the Seven Wonders of the World, Eben reluctantly accepts his father's challenge: "I just think there's no use searching the world for Wonders when you can't see the marvels right under your own nose." What follows is a weeklong odyssey where Eben asks people he's known his whole life if they have anything special lying around. They do. It's not the objects themselves that are so extraordinary-an applehead doll named Miss Zeldy, a rickety bookcase, a table-as much as his neighbors' magical stories that accompany them that will inspire everything from chuckles to chills. The matter-of-fact first-person narrative is refreshing, as Eben is neither overly precocious nor terribly troubled-just a small-town boy with wanderlust who learns that an explorer doesn't have to travel too far afield to have an adventure, but that leaving town still sounds awfully good. (Fiction. 8-11) (Kirkus Reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charliecat on 13 Oct 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful little book. Illustrations are just perfect and the story is full of wonders. Eben McAllister lives in Sassafras Springs, Missouri where he thinks it's boring and lonely. He is interested in the Seven Wonders of the World. His Pa challenges him to find seven wonders in little old Sassafras Springs and you'll be surprised what he finds out about his town and neighbours! A lot of fun and very enjoyable.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Sweet on 14 Feb 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book for all ages. I absolutely love the wisdom, flow, perspective, and profound storytelling ability of this author. In seeking life's intrinsic treasures, what better way to question how to measure greatness, meaning, happiness, and wonder than to seek and discover these things hidden in our own back yards?
The story Ms. Birney weaves is so close to my own heart, I could almost swear that I grew up in Sassafras Springs. Though I am sad to say that my dissatisfaction growing up in the country, on the outskirts of a town with seemingly little to offer, did not allow me to realize the wonders surrounding me in my youth until I was well into adulthood. I sincerely wish a challenge similar to that of Eben's had been issued to me growing up so I could have learned at a much earlier age to appreciate what I now recognize I missed. In relation to my own childhood, the moving nature of this story made me weep.
Matt Phelan's illustrations are a wonderful compliment to this book. His drawings are completely classic and fit the story so perfectly, they remind me of Garth Williams' insight for the illustrations of the Little House series and E.B. White's enchanting tales. Though many recent books feature trendier artwork, the purity of Mr. Phelan's style is parallel to the purity of the story he brings to life with his drawings.
This book is destined to be a great classic, perhaps equal in significance to works such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Tom Sawyer. I have already begun a second reading of this story, and I am sure I will reread it many more times during my life as well. I believe it is my favorite of all the new books I have read in the last ten years. I literally could not put it down until I had finished it, and even dropped it into the kitchen sink at one point while combining daily chores with reading. This is a meaningful story of the heart and speaks directly to the meaning of life. I recommend it for everyone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 38 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
creative, beautiful story 3 July 2006
By belley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a third and fourth grade teacher. The librarian in our school highly recommended this book. I read it aloud to my third grade class of boys, and they were thoroughly intrigued by the book. There are several vignettes throughout the book, and each of these wonderful depections is written with breathtaking imagination. The characters and the storyline are well built. I would recommend this as an independent reading book for most fourth or fifth graders, and as a read aloud for third graders because it is written in an old-fashioned southern manner, which, in my opinion, is a bit difficult for most third graders to read fluidly by themselves.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I would recommend this book to anyone 18 Sep 2005
By Team LitPick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sassafras Springs is just a boring farming town, assumes plucky young Eben McAllister. Until one day, when his pa challenges him to find the Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs - in seven days. If he succeeds, Eben's pa will let him take the trip to Colorado that he has been dreaming of. Aunt Pretty thinks it is a bad idea at first, that Eben should stay home and mind the farm with his pa, but then she agrees because she knows how restless he is. Eben is excited to have found six wonders already - which, by the way, include a life-saving apple ead doll and a real ship in a bottle - when he finds out that a sickness is going through the Colorado town of his destination, and the trip is off. He is very disappointed until Aunt Pretty makes arrangements for him to visit St. Louis instead. Eben is back on track pursuing his goal . . . one more wonder, and he is off to the train station.

Overall, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs is a delightful, energetic story with likable characters. The book has a well-thought-out plot. I usually like science fiction and fantasy books, so I was not sure if I would enjoy this, but The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs really surprised me. I enjoyed reading it very much. It was heart-warming in some places, and sad in others, and it was interesting to see how Eben comes to realize that even a small town like Sassafras Springs can have wonders of its own. I would recommend this book to anyone, and readers who enjoyed Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder will love this.
[...]
Preteen, teen, and young adult book reviews and recommendations.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Illustrations, a lovely southern tale 28 Jun 2005
By K. G. Seal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This meandering tale carries in it the qualities of all fine southern fiction: multidimensional characters, clear descriptions of place, and a story to carry them beyond the covers of the book. The illustrations, by Matt Phelan, are done in simple, evokative line drawings, and enrich the reader's imagination without overwhelming.

The story has enough pull for younger readers to stay interested, and is rich enough to capture older individuals as well.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The cure for the summertime blues 29 July 2011
By M. Heiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Parents hear this once a summer: "There's nothing to do." "Nothing ever happens around here." "My life is boring." OK.

This is a beautiful book about the wonder of everyday life, and the surprising stories of the people around us. The cover illustration makes it look like "Because of Winn-Dixie" but this book is SO MUCH BETTER. It is a joy to read a children's book this well-written (but watch out for "hell" and replacement curse words).

And it's by Betty Birney, who wrote the incomparably enjoyable "Humphrey" series.

Parent notes: Written in vernacular ("could of", "would of", "haint"...), this book sports some questionable language: When hell freezes over. Gee whiz. Dang. Dang. Shucks. Why on God's green earth? By doggies. Doggone. By jiggers. Doggone. Lord.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Story that Touches the Heart 3 July 2005
By J. H. Sweet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book for all ages. I absolutely love the wisdom, flow, perspective, and profound storytelling ability of this author. In seeking life's intrinsic treasures, what better way to question how to measure greatness, meaning, happiness, and wonder than to seek and discover these things hidden in our own back yards?

The story Ms. Birney weaves is so close to my own heart, I could almost swear that I grew up in Sassafras Springs. Though I am sad to say that my dissatisfaction growing up in the country, on the outskirts of a town with seemingly little to offer, did not allow me to realize the wonders surrounding me in my youth until I was well into adulthood. I sincerely wish a challenge similar to that of Eben's had been issued to me growing up so I could have learned at a much earlier age to appreciate what I now recognize I missed. In relation to my own childhood, the moving nature of this story made me weep.

Matt Phelan's illustrations are a wonderful compliment to this book. His drawings are completely classic and fit the story so perfectly, they remind me of Garth Williams' insight for the illustrations of the Little House series and E.B. White's enchanting tales. Though many recent books feature trendier artwork, the purity of Mr. Phelan's style is parallel to the purity of the story he brings to life with his drawings.

This book is destined to be a great classic, perhaps equal in significance to works such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Tom Sawyer. I have already begun a second reading of this story, and I am sure I will reread it many more times during my life as well. I believe it is my favorite of all the new books I have read in the last ten years. I literally could not put it down until I had finished it, and even dropped it into the kitchen sink at one point while combining daily chores with reading. This is a meaningful story of the heart and speaks directly to the meaning of life. I recommend it for everyone.

J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
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