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Anna Was Here with Safety Tips, by Jane Kurtz

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Author Jane Kurtz takes readers into the world of nine-year-old Anna with a sweet story of childhood adjustments, growth and change in Anna was Here. The story begins when Anna's father, the church pastor, is called to Kansas to help a sister church get "over a hump." That means Anna must move away from the Colorado home and friends she loves.

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It wasn't that Anna wasn't used to change it's what change meant since she’d been named "Gold Ribbon Safety Citizen" of her fourth grade class. Now there would be no more weekly meetings with her newly formed "Safety Club." No more sitting "pretzel legs" with Jericho, the college student who looked after her when her parents were busy.

The Safety Club had started when everyone was so scared about the out-of-control Colorado wildfires last summer. That's when Jericho suggested making safety notebooks. Anna and her friends, with Jericho's guidance, researched and learned what to do about bears, rattlesnakes, fire, earthquakes, tornados and more. Those disaster tips begin each chapter of Anna's story.

However, the notebook couldn’t help with Anna’s newest worry—Midnight H. Cat who now sat purring on her lap. How could she control what happened to him? Would he run away when they moved? Would he like Kansas? Would he be safe?

When the day to move arrived Anna went into her bedroom closet for the last time, "turned on the light and carefully wrote on the closet wall, 'Anna was here...And she'll be back.'"

Thus begins a gentle tale of childhood adjustments and unanswered prayers wrapped in ribbons of faith. Jane's characterizations add depth to a narrative of delightfully vivid word descriptions like “pinch mouth look," ookey-spookey, musty-dusty basement" and "shivery-dee.” Or the "same-sames," her quirky nickname for three friends left behind. Or her boastful shout to a tormentor, "I'm not just a girl, you know. The angel Gabriel is basically my best friend."

It's a family narrative of action, adventure and fun, about making a difference and the power of gratitude any middle-grade reader would enjoy.

Portland, OR author, Jane Kurtz was two-years-old when her family moved to Ethiopia to work for a Presbyterian Church. Since then she's lived in North Dakota, Kansas, Illinois and Colorado before returning to Oregon with her husband where she penned this middle-grade novel.

***Check the list for more Jane Kurtz books***

Anna Was Here, by Jane Kurtz (Greenwillow Books—2013, Hardcover, Ages 8-12, 288 Pages, $16.00) 978-0060564933

Midwest Book Reviews December: "Gail's Bookshelf"

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