Saturday, December 24, 2016

Julia and the Hand of God by Eleanor Cameron

  • THE BOOK
    • Julia and the Hand of God by Eleanor Cameron
    • Published November 1977
    • Second book in the Julia Redfern series
      • Book one --- A Room Made of Windows --- review here

  • THE PREMISE
    • It's Julia's 11th birthday and she and her mother and brother are on their way from Berkeley to San Francisco to have dinner with her aunt and uncle.
    • Julia is obsessed with the San Francisco earthquake in which her uncle was caught in 1906. Her grandmother refers to it as the "hand of God" coming down on the wicked city. 
    • Julia, her widowed mother and 13-year-old brother all live with her grandmother. The grandmother is often exasperated with Julia and seems to favor her grandson over her granddaughter.
    • Julia makes friends with a retired and widowed doctor. She helps him out when a devastating fire threatens Berkeley. 
      • Spoiler: Julia believes the "hand of God" saved her life from the fire as she was napping in the woods near where the fire began.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This book was perfectly fine and an interesting read but I was SO disappointed!
      • Here are the books in order of publication:
        • 1971: A Room Made of Windows (Julia is 12)
        • 1977: Julia and the Hand of God (Julia is 11)
        • 1982: That Julia Redfern (Julia is 8)
        • 1984: Julia's Magic (Julia is 6)
        • 1988: The Private Worlds of Julia Redfern (Julia is 15)
      • The author wrote in reverse until the last book!
        • I have nothing against books about little kids but I get a Ramona Quimby vibe from Julia and I hate Ramona with the heat of 10,000 suns!
          • By the way, apparently Beverly Cleary is still with us at this writing and is 100 years old! I read so many of her books as a child. She's awesome, despite my Ramona hate.
        • I preferred Ramona's older sister Beezus because I was an older sister and had sympathy for her and having to deal with a pesty younger sibling (no offense to my 2 younger bros!).
      • If I had known this I might have read them in character age order. I am totally looking forward to the last book. As a wannabe writer I enjoy stories about people becoming writers, even fictional people!
    • At one point in the story Julia needs to go down to Berkeley's "Shellmound Park" and deliver a package to a man who lives on a side street. The man turns out to be the doctor she will befriend. 
      • I'm thinking, Shellmound? That sounds familiar!
        • This is because the Ikea store closest to me is located on Shellmound Street in Emeryville.
        • In 1923 it apparently had an amusement park and dance hall literally built on top of the mound of shells which was a sacred burial space for the local Ohlone people. (Naturally.) It closed in 1924 as business fell off after Prohibition began.
          • None of this information is in the book; it's just here for your edification!
          • Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about it: Emeryville Shellmound. It has a few pictures!
    • The big fire in the book was huge and I wondered if Berkeley really did have a fire in the early 1920s. It did indeed, on September 17, 1923, destroying 640 buildings.
    • I'm ambivalent about reading the books that go back in time but they are pretty short children's books so I will take a stab at getting through them.
    • This one is recommended for middle school readers.

2 comments:

  1. Your brothers will not even know they have been insulted. I was more concerned with an 11-year-old girl meeting up with some doctor in a park. How did one get from Berkeley to San Francisco in 1923? I am guessing that the heat of 10,000 suns is what caused the great Berkeley fire?

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    Replies
    1. They won't know because they don't read my book blog!

      Really, Larkspur Boy? They took one of the zillion ferries that existed in the days before the bridges were built.

      She didn't meet the doctor in the park; he lived on a side street! Guh.

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