In Blue Willow
, Doris Gates chronicles the harsh life experienced by migrant workers in California’s Central Valley. Janey Larkin, the young daughter of migrant workers, wishes only for a home, friends and the opportunity to go to school. As the family moves from place to place to earn a less than meager living, Janey and her family experience hardships that are common to itinerant farm laborers.
Her most prized possession is a beautiful, blue-and-white Chinese Pagoda plate, with a blue willow design, given to her by her great-grandmother. Janey’s dream is to live in a house beside a willow tree, just like the one on her cherished plate.
When her mother becomes ill, Janey contemplates making an incredibly big sacrifice for the welfare of her family. And to further complicate matters, Janey discovers the dishonest foreman is pocketing the family’s hard-earned rent money.
The strength of the human spirit is quite evident in this touching story depicting the despair of migrant workers. The effect is stirring and compelling. This Newbery Medal Honor Book presents young readers with a valuable message of compassion.