Dicey Tillerman is wise beyond her years, and sadly so. Apparently, she took the lead in traveling across several states with her 3 younger siblings in tow in order to get them to the one person who can take care of them: their grandmother. I say "apparently" because this book is #2 in the Tillerman series, and I have yet to read #1. (Not gonna lie...I just picked it because it is a Newbery.)
At the beginning of the book the Tillerman kiddos are all settling into life with their grandmother, and it bothered me that Dicey has so many different worries...well beyond anything that is age appropriate. Their mother is in an asylum with no promise of recovery, one of the brothers is fighting, another brother is a genius but feels left out, and her sister has a learning problem that not even the teachers can figure out. They also have to deal with rumors of their grandmother being crazy, and the fact that money is always short.
What I took from this book is that you just never know what kids are going through. Dicey is just a little girl, but seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. I think many of our students are the same way. Having said that, it's a real downer!