If you’re looking for a story with characters that communicate depth of feeling without a trace of melodrama and that successfully portray the genuine conflicts of a young heart with candor and authenticity, you’ll be richly rewarded by Roses on Baker Street by Eileen Berry. Roses takes its place in your heart like gently falling snow—quietly, subtly, softly.
It begins when we are introduced to a missionary family returning to the States from France for a year-long furlough. Their youngest daughter, a third grader named Danae, enters her new, un-France-like world with caution and unavoidable comparisons. The streets are different. The houses are different. The language is different. Even the bread is different. And the hardest part of all to grasp is her father’s advice to his homesick daughter: “Look for the roses—not the thorns.” Danae combs the neighborhood and doesn’t find a single rose. In France they peppered the landscape, gracefully climbing the walls of her village.
In school, Danae’s teacher tries her best to make Danae feel welcome, and in the classroom, the children show some interest in their new classmate’s home on the other side of the ocean. But after observing giggling and whispers in the lunchroom, Danae returns from her first day of school feeling friendless. And it is here—in my favorite scene in the story—that her father steps in and enters into his daughter’s feelings of loneliness in a special way.
Roses on Baker Street ends in a surprising blaze of color that will linger with five- to nine-year-olds long after they close the covers of this touching tale. With its lessons in patience and contentment, its beautiful color illustrations by master artist John Roberts, and Berry’s characteristically gentle style, Roses waits to take its place on your library shelf and in the heart of every child who reads it.