Like the Willow Tree
The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918
by Lois Lowry
Historical fiction, recommended for grades 3-8 and a favorite recommendation of ours to all children visiting Sabbathday Lake.
In 1918, as the Great War rages in Europe, the Spanish influenza tears a brutal path across the United States, leaving devastation in its wake. Ordinary life is turned upside down as schools are closed, and all spheres of public life are shut down. Suddenly, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her older brother, Daniel, find themselves orphans of the flu, and are taken by their grieving uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shaker’s unfamiliar way of life, Lydia, a fiercely independent girl, must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know.
Lydia must work hard, and all the while she worries about her headstrong brother, who has run away. In time, and with her courageous spirit, Lydia learns to overcome the devastation wrought by the Spanish flu pandemic and find the joy in living with the Shakers — yet she cannot stop wondering, will Daniel ever return?
Newbery medalist Lois Lowry’s poignant story of a girl living through the Spanish Influenza pandemic sadly seems more resonant than ever before. In the face of COVID-19, readers are sure to draw comfort from Lydia’s sense of hopefulness. Now, with a brand new introduction from the author!