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Charly is the story of Charles Kimball Ryan, set in Boston, in the early 1900s. After Charly’s mother dies in a tragic fire, his father leaves behind with his eldest son, instructions for him to take his youngest three children to the New England Home for Little Wanderers, then heads west.
Charly is not keen on the home, particularly when his youngest sister, Minnie, is soon chosen by a well-to-do couple to live with them. But he makes the best of things. Fortunately, he has a gift: he can sing! Thus, he joins the children’s choir and becomes the group’s star soloist. Then one Sunday morning while the choir sings, Charly sets his eyes on a girl sitting in a pew who reminds him of his sister, Minnie. When the girl’s father approaches to inquire about the possibility of taking one of the children back home with his family, Charly hears words that are like music to his ears: “My wife wants the boy who can sing,” the simple farmer says. And so begins Charly’s new life, complete with an array of adventures on a farm in Maine.
For some reason, it seems difficult to find engaging, interesting books for middle-grade readers. Charly will help to fill that gap. With careful historical research, Donna Marie Seim offers a tale that is rich in detail, full of emotion, and ultimately, satisfying. Charly is the well-deserving 2015 winner of The Enchanted Quill Award from Literary Classics.