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After getting into trouble at home, ten-year-old Sarah Ida is sent to spend the summer with her aunt. Determined to earn her own money, she gets a job at a shoe shine stand and learns a great many things besides shining shoes. Illustrated by Leigh Grant.
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Clyde Robert Bulla is the author of over fifty books for children including The Secret Valley and The Story of Valentine’s Day. He has been writing since 1946 when he published his first book, The Donkey Cart. Mr. Bulla was the first recipient of the Southern California Council on Children’s Literature award for distinguished contribution to the field. He lives in Los Angeles, California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The train stopped at Palmville, and Sarah Ida had a sudden thought. What if she didn’t get off? What if she just rode on to the end of the line? Maybe she could find a place where everything was new and she could start all over again.
But people would ask questions. How old are you? ... Only ten and a half? What are you doing here all by yourself? Someone would be sure to find her and bring her back.
Anyway, it was too late. Aunt Claudia had already seen her. Aunt Claudia was at the station, looking through the train window and waving.
Sarah Ida picked up her suitcase.
"Here, little lady, I’ll help you with that," said the porter.
"I can carry it myself," she said, and she dragged it off the train.
Aunt Claudia gave her a kiss that smelled like cough drops. Then they took a taxi. They rode through town, and Aunt Claudia talked. "You’ve grown, but I knew you the minute I saw you. You’ve got your mother’s pretty brown eyes, but you’ve got your father’s jaw. Look – over there. That’s our new supermarket. Things may seem quiet to you here after the city, but I think you’ll like Palmville. It’s getting to be quite a city, too."
Sarah Ida said nothing.
"We’re on Grand Avenue," said Aunt Claudia. "It’s the main street." The taxi turned off the avenue and stopped in front of a square, gray house.
While Aunt Claudia paid the driver, Sarah Ida looked at the house. It was old, with a new coat of paint. It had spidery-looking porches and balconies.
They went inside.
"There’s the telephone," said Aunt Claudia. "Your mother wanted you to call as soon as you got here."
"Why?" asked Sarah Ida.
"So she’d know you got here all right."
"You call her," said Sarah Ida.
"All right." Aunt Claudia went to the telephone. "I’ll dial the number for you."
"Don’t dial it for me," said Sarah Ida. "I’m not going to talk to her."
Aunt Claudia’s mouth opened and closed. Then she said, "It’s been a long trip, and I know you’re tired. Come on upstairs. Shall I help you with your suitcase?"
"No," said Sarah Ida.
They climbed the stairs. Aunt Claudia opened a door. "This is your room."
Sarah Ida looked around the room. It wasn’t bad. She rather liked the rag rugs on the dark wood floor, and she didn’t mind the rocking chair. But the window curtains were fussy. So was the bed cover. And the pictures on the wall were terrible – a fat girl looking at a robin, and a horse with a blue ribbon around its neck.
She waited for Aunt Claudia to ask, "How do you like it?" She was going to answer, "I like plain things."
But Aunt Claudia didn’t ask. "Maybe you want to unpack now," she said. "We can talk later."
"We can talk now if you want to." Sarah Ida sat down on the bed.
Aunt Claudia sat in the rocking chair.
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