Readers of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess didn’t have to worry about the fate of its optimistic heroine, Sara Crewe. After going from riches to rags, she was rescued from Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies by her father’s business partner.
But the fates of the other girls weren’t so neatly tied up. Whatever happened to mischievous Lottie, supercilious Lavinia and Sara’s very best friend, Ermengarde? Those questions and more are answered in Hilary McKay’s delightful new book for middle-grade readers, Wishing for Tomorrow. McKay has won acclaim for novels like Saffy’s Angel and Forever Rose, and here she has created a worthy successor to A Little Princess.
The novel begins with the final days of Sara’s tenure at Miss Minchin’s, where the loss of her fortune has the former star pupil paying for her keep by working as a maid. The loyal Ermengarde defies Miss Minchin to visit Sara in the cold attic, until she discovers that Sara has been keeping secrets. After Sara’s abrupt departure, Ermengarde feels betrayed by her so-called best friend, even as she misses Sara’s imagination and magical stories. Still, she takes over Sara’s role of “mother” to Lottie and ventures to the attic to feed Sara’s pet rat, Melchisedec. But there’s not much time to brood over the past: Miss Minchin is acting strangely, Lavinia is keeping secrets and there’s a new boy next door who calls Ermengarde “the goldy one.” These adventures—and a visit to Aunt Eliza—help Ermengarde discover that she has some magic of her own. Over the course of McKay’s lively tale, she learns important lessons about forgiveness, courage and true friendship.
When you turn the last page of a beloved book, your first instinct is to want to know what happens next. Wishing for Tomorrow both satisfies that desire and reinvigorates it. Fans of A Little Princess couldn’t ask for a better addition to their favorite story.