A good writing friend presented me with a gift last year, the children’s book, Secret Letters From 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern. I’m ashamed to tell you that I had never heard of the book or the author until that moment. What a precious story!
The main character, Ernest – don’t you love the name? It fits him to a tee — is a ten-year-old boy who has never had a life. Ernest lives in France and has been raised by his grandmother, a woman grieving the loss of husband, daughter-in-law, and son. She has no energy or enthusiasm to raise another child in her old age, so Ernest gains no aspirations other than to excel in school and continue his unknowingly lackluster life of three dull meals a day and homework.
Enter Victoria. The new girl in his class is a bundle of energy, and she has zeroed in on Ernest. She teaches him to LIVE. The only sister of thirteen brothers, Ernest is simultaneously enthralled and befuddled by Victoria and her wild and crazy family.
Because of Victoria, Ernest and his grandmother learn to enjoy experiences such as walks down the street or delectable cuisine whipped up by their new housekeeper, Henrietta, hired on Victoria and family’s recommendation.
Ernest finally dares to search for his long lost father, a subject never before broached with his grandmother. Between his great grandfather’s coded letter from World War I and a packet of ten years’ worth of letters that arrive from his father, Ernest tries to figure out why he was abandoned and if he could ever have some kind of relationship with his father. While Victoria has taught him about family, the secret letters teach him something more.
Susie Morgenstern has written dozens of books for children. I look forward to discovering more of them. If you have read others, please let me know which stories are your favorites.