I’ve read this book before, and I loved it then. I still love it now. 😉 The protagonist is a girl named Rachel Sheridan, her parents are missionaries, and they live in Africa. Rachel can speak Swahili, and play piano. Her father is a doctor, but also does preaching because the priest died. Her mother is a teacher, but she also acts as a nurse. Rachel’s life is exciting, but when both her parents die because of influenza, the Pritchard’s, a rich couple who’s daughter died at the same time Rachel’s mother died, take her in. This is because her hair is orange. Why is that so important? Their daughter’s hair is orange, and they were going to send her to Mr. Pritchard’s father to try and wheedle money from him, and to convince him to give the estates to him instead of a bird-watching society.
When Rachel gets there, she sees snow for the first time, and when she meets the grandfather, she feels bad about her part in the deception. He’s a nice man. Throughout the winter and spring, she tells him about Africa, and stories about Rachel Sheridan (she is now Valerie Pritchard), and in the spring he gives her assignments to find birds and tell her about them… including one little bird which might be a new subspecies. Of course, being a little vain (as he describes it), he named it after himself. Pritchardi. Rachel finds herself feeling as if he actually was her grandfather, and starts thinking of him as “Grandfather” instead of “the grandfather”. The Pritchard’s do eventually follow her and get angry when Rachel truthfully tells Grandfather that she thinks his idea of giving his estates to the bird-watching association is a lovely one. They try to keep her in their flat in London, but she escapes and goes to visit Grandfather’s butler (I think he was a butler…) She reveals the whole truth to him and finds out that Grandfather guessed from the start that she wasn’t Valerie, and wanted to give her a chance to explain herself. And he grew rather fond of her. So in the end, he adopted her.
She was sent to school at the insistence of the butler’s sister, and she realized that what she wanted to do was train to be a doctor so that she could go re-open her parent’s hospital. Grandfather had left her a lot of money in his will, so it was possible. It all turned out very nicely, and is a very good read. According to some things I’ve read about it, it’s for ages 11-14, but I think that if you can’t enjoy a book like that no matter how old you are, there is something wrong with either the book or the reader (I don’t intend to offend anyone with that statement). I got that idea from someone who makes GelaSkins (pretty darn good ones too!), he’s colour blind, and says that saying that if an adult reads a children’s book and doesn’t like it, something is wrong with either the book or the adult is just a fancy way of saying that he doesn’t want to grow up. XD I have to agree, I don’t want to grow up either! 😛 At least, I don’t want to change too much…. like not being able to enjoy certain things like I do now. Anyway, it’s a great book, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Relatively sure.
I think I’ll have to find some sort of book that has all of the world’s known birds in it, so that I can identify birds when I see them instead of just going “ooh look! A bird!” like I usually do. I envy Rachel, she got someone who could tell her what sorts of birds she was seeing. ¬¬ Ah well….