The Barn

by Avi

When his father becomes ill, nine-year-old Ben leaves boarding school in Portland,... read more

When his father becomes ill, nine-year-old Ben leaves boarding school in Portland, where he's been since his mother's death the previous year, and returns to his family's home in the Oregon Territory to help his older brother and sister take care of Father and run the farm. The "fit of palsy" Father suffered has left him as helpless as an infant, unable to feed himself, clean himself, or communicate in any way. Caring for Father, Ben desperately looks for signs of improvement - the smallest movement, the tiniest sound. Finally, he determines that if he, Nettie and Harrison construct - with no one's help - the barn that Father had wanted so badly to build, Father will have something to live for. It is Ben's trust that this barn - this gift - will make Father better that is at the heart of this bittersweet story of determination and faith as only a child knows them. (Ages 9-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1994

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