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Laurel Hill – New Beginnings Review by Cassandra Holdeman

Erin Mackey

Moving to a new town can be very difficult for a child. Everything they are familiar with changes and they often feel like life in a new town will be terrible. That isn’t always the case, but that is exactly what Maggie Anderson felt like in the book Laurel Hill - New Beginnings by Erin Mackey. It is also what my 9-year-old daughter felt like when our family moved just over a year ago, so I was hoping she could relate to the story in this book.

Laurel Hill - New Beginnings opens up with a group of 10 and 11-year-old friends who have all known each other for a long time. These girls (Katie, Amy, Jennifer, Morgan, and Nikki) do everything together and have a lot of great memories with each other. Then Maggie and her mom move to town after her parents get divorced. Maggie is nervous about her new school and whether or not she will make any friends. She leaves her house reassuring her mom that she will be fine and that she is looking forward to her new school, but she is really dreading the unknown of it all. Once she is at school and in her new classroom, she meets the girls and they learn that they have many things in common. The more time the girls spend together, the better friends they become. They deal with a mean girl, solve a mystery, and learn that they are not so different from each other. They learn to cheer each other on, help each other out, and be a team working together. Maggie quickly sees that she didn’t have anything to dread by moving to Laurel Hill.

The book is only 70 pages long and intended for readers ages 8-12, but it has many great lessons that the readers can learn. Friendship is the obvious lesson of this book, but as my daughter and I read it, we found more lessons. We found the lessons of accepting others, kindness, helping, sharing, empathy, and putting others first. The lesson I didn’t expect from this little book was to rely on God first. There were several places in the book where the girls stopped to pray before their activity and several times that they prayed prayers of thanksgiving when things worked out. This was a refreshing bonus to this book in my opinion.

My daughter and I enjoyed reading this book together. It gave us a chance to talk about Maggie’s move versus our move. My daughter could definitely empathize with Maggie’s feelings about moving, but she admitted that she has spent too long being sad that we moved from our old house instead of looking for the positives of our new house. I was very thankful that this book allowed us to have this chat and sort some of the feelings out for my daughter. I also really appreciated how the book portrayed putting God first and praying through situations and feelings. This is advice that we give our daughter all the time, but for her to see that kids her own age are doing it (even if it is a fiction book) helped her see that it is okay for to have the negative feelings, but that she should be praying about them and asking for God’s help. She also related the story to herself because she said she felt like Maggie walking into her new school when we walked into our new church. She wasn’t sure she would find good friends, but she did and she loves the adventures she has with her new friends. My daughter could have easily read this book on her own but knowing the topics I chose for us to read it together, so we could discuss it. She really enjoyed it and said she can’t wait to read the next book since this is book one and that she hopes there are many books in this series.

-Product review by Cassandra Holdeman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2018