WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Changes for Samantha (American Girl Series) by Valerie Tripp
Type: Children’s, Historical Fiction
Basic Plot: Samantha Parkington is temporarily staying with her Aunt and Uncle as her grandparents go on a trip. She soon finds out her old friend Nellie has newly moved into the city, but under more than sad circumstances. Samantha determines to do her best to keep her friend’s spirits high, regardless of the risks necessary.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The plot of the book builds quite nicely. The story builds in such a way that most children probably won’t know where its going, having a lot of excitement and suspense on what will happen next. In some ways, it is the opposite of the last book. While the last one dealt with Samantha resolving her past, this one has to do with resolving her future.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: The style is quite fast moving, doesn’t waste time in unnecessary detail, and focuses more on plot development than on painting a picture. As this is more similar to modern books, I think plenty of children will like it.
Moral: 2/5 Good or Bad Moral: The moral of the story has potential to be good or bad. I believe Samantha’s heart is in the right place, with a strong love for her friends and desire to help them. She does tend to act rashly though, doing things that could be dangerous for others without asking first. In the earlier books, I feel like it was more balanced than in the later ones, but I do still think the moral could be taken either way. Children could look at this as a story of a girl helping others or as a girl that just does what she wants so they should to. Samantha thankfully never directly breaks the rules her elders makes and always takes personal responsibility for her actions, but she also makes excuses and gets her way. I feel like in the earlier books, it was more balanced with her growing, but that may be just the way I feel. In conclusion, I would proceed with caution and awareness, but not total aversion.
Overall: 4/5 Well Done: This is probably the best book in the series. The story is exciting and raw like the one before it, but still has the historical and childish hopes and charms that the American Girl series seems to always carry. I would recommend it to children eight to nine and older.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Brief Picture: There is a picture of a woman helping tie another woman’s corset strings.
Violence: 0/5 None
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: It mentions that a girl said a man’s name like “a curse.”
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 Brief Appearance: A letter says girls’ parents die from the flue. A girl wants to cry from hearing the news. Later, a girl from fear of separation from her sisters cries a little.
Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Mention: Characters mention that they are lucky. Cupids are used in valentines.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: It mentions that a man was a drunkard.
Overall: ½/5 All Ages Appropriate: I believe the book is appropriate for children six and older, as long as their family does not mind the mention of drinking.