Keeper of the Doves
by Betsy Byars
Set in the waning years of the 19th century, this is the tale of five sisters
approaching a big change in their family life; it is an acrostic book, told
in 26 chapters beginning with each letter of the alphabet in order; it is a
story about a child coming to terms with the all-but-smothering fear of her
personal bogeyman; and it is a bittersweet tragedy in which the concepts of
guilt and innocence, good and evil, prejudice and family play a role.
Amie McBee, whose real first name (embarrassingly) is Amen, bears the brunt
of being the fifth daughter of a businessman who has always wanted a son.
She has one beautiful sister, one who is musically gifted, and a pair of
mischievous twins who could hold their own against Fred and George Weasley;
but as the one who loves words, and the one who sees things most clearly,
Amie is the best suited for telling this tale.
It has to do with an old hermit named Tominski who lives in an abandoned
chapel on the McBee family land. The girls' father leaves him alone because
of a longstanding obligation, but the old "keeper of the doves" is widely
rumored to be dangerous. Even once she sees him for herself and overcomes
her fear of him, Amie seems inclined to agree that old man Tominski "isn't all there." But even
so, shouldn't it take more than a minor family tragedy to destroy Mr. Tominksi's whole world?
Byars, South Carolina-based author of the award-winning Summer of the Swans
, gives young readers plenty to think about in this slim, quickly-read
Recommended Age: 12+
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