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by Tracy Holczer

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years



Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.

Editorial Reviews

* "A lovely and captivating debut . . . nuanced characters engage from beginning to end."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "Holczer expertly crafts the characters and dialogue to create a story readers will identify with, and thoroughly enjoy."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Grace's surprising discoveries about herself, her family, her friends, and her struggles with sorrow and forgivenes, are engrossing."—Kirkus Reviews

"Tracy Holczer's story is a lyric about love and loss and not being able to find your future until you've uncovered your past."—Newbery winning author Richard Peck

"Grace's story will steal your heart as she travels toward friendship, love and a place to belong."—Newbery Honor winning author Patricia Reilly Giff

"A lovely story of longing for closeness, adn learning about what it means to be family. Poetic and tender."—Newbery Honor winning author Margarita Engle

Related Subjects

  • ">Emotions & Behaviors - Kids Fiction
  • ">Family Life - Kids Fiction
  • ">Health & Medicine - Kids Fiction
  • ">Social Issues - Kids Fiction

    Read an Excerpt


    Two Hundred and Fifty-Six Mississippis

      All I had to do was walk up to the coffin. That was all. I just had to get there and set the gardenia on the smooth brown wood. Grandma said gardenias were a proper funeral flower. As if there was such a thing.
      But my mind hept turning to daisies. The wild ones I'd found and stuck into the cold white funeral wreaths. Mama would have liked that. She'd told me that daisies spoke in a kind of song, a secret humming that birds could feel in their hollow bones, drawing them close. She said I could feel it, too, if I tried, along the fine hairs of my arms and neck. That we all have a little bird in us somewhere.
      But there wasn't any bird in me. I could never hear the daisies either. Or any other flower for that matter.
      Listen, Grace. Mama's voice seemed to drift near the stained glass windows where wet snow stuck and then slid down the colored panes.
      Grandma told me it had been a cold winter and it wasn't over yet, even though it was April. One of the only facts she'd shared with me since we'd met the week before. Of course, it wasn't like I knew how much it snowed here, or when, being from just about everywhere else. In all our wandering across the great state of California, Mama had never mentioned the Sierra Nevadas or her hometown, Auburn Valley.
      Grandma took my hadn in her damp one and squeezed. Hard. "Listen, now" she said.
      I pulled my hand out of hers with a juicy plop and wiped it down my skirt.
      ". . . she was a loving mother," said Pastor Dave, his voice turning from buzzing to words. More words like "free spirit," "quick to laugh," "full of life." Grandma fidgted in her seat. Other people fidgeted, too. I wondered if they'd known Mama years ago.
      Then Pastor Dave said God took her for his own reasons.
      But it wasn't God; it was the river.
      I closed my eyes and pushed those thoughts away. Thoughts about Mama's last night, what I might have done different. Thoughts about Mrs. Greene and Lacey and how they were more of a family to me than Grandma would ever be. I turned around to find them at the back of the church, still fuming at Grandma for not letting them sit here in the front row with us. But just the sight of Mrs. Greene, her quick nod of confidence, gave me the courage to do what I had to do.
      Pastor Dave stopped talking when I stood up.
      I stared down at my too-tight Mary Janes, skin puffing around the edges like marshmallow. Twelve was too old for those dumb shoes, but they were the only decent ones I owned. They squeaked as I stepped toward the giant sprays of sweet white flowers, eyeing the wild daisies I'd tucked in around the bottom.  
      There was a gasp. Or maybe it was my shoes.
      Pastor Dave cleared his throat and picked up where he'd left off. Pews creaked, nylons hushed. I felt eyes on my back like a heat. I turned around to face those eyes, to look at Grandma, hard as the bench she sat on, daring her to stop me, but she was staring at Jesus in the stained glass window, her unused handkerchief held firmly in both long-fingered hands.  
      I picked the daisies out of the sprays. One by one by one. Heart thumping, I sat down on the red carpeted steps and made a daisy chain, weaving the stems in and out, in and out, reminding me of the number 8 and how Mama said we were like that, winding around and through each other, not sure where one picked up and the other left off. Pastor Dave must have given up on his speech because he stopped talking again, and after a short silence, the organist started "In the Garden," which I recognized from one of Mrs. Greene's Elvis records. Everyone stood, a commotion of creaking wood and turning pages, like they were glad for some direction.
      I set the daisy crown right on top of hte closed coffin lid, where Mama's head rested underneath, and then walked past Grandma, past all those other people who were studying their hymnals, singing for dear life. Right past Mrs. Greene, who reached her hand out so that I could brush mine against it, palm to palm.
      The singing quieted as the door shut behind me. I sat down on the cold concrete steps under the eaves and watched the slush come down. "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi . . ." Drowning out the never-ending hymn.
      Lacey followed and sat next to me, quiet. She took my hand in hers, our fingers intertwined like a choloate-and-vanilla swirl. I leaned my head on her shoulder.
      "Sisters forever," she said.
      I couldn't make a sound, so I just nodded.
      It took Grandma two hundred and fifty-six Mississippis to come outside. I didn't care it took her so long, though. Because I had a mama who never would have let me get past ten. We knew how to save each other.

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