Miracles on Maple Hill

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Miracles on Maple Hill
Miracles on Maple Hill 1956 cover.jpg
Original 1956 cover
Author Virginia Sorensen
Illustrator Beth and Joe Krush
Cover artist Beth and Joe Krush
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's literature, Historical fiction
Publisher Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date
Pages 180
ISBN 0-152-54558-1
OCLC 220653

Miracles on Maple Hill is a 1956 novel by Virginia Sorensen that won the 1957 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature. The book was illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush.

The settings and characters for the book were inspired by real people and locations the author encountered during her stay in Edinboro, Pennsylvania between 1952-1958.[1]


Marly's family moves to the country so that her father, a former prisoner of war suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can learn to function once more. They are supported by a neighbor couple, Mr. and Mrs. Chris, who make their living with maple syrup. Marly and her brother adapt to living in the country, and eventually become happier there. Their father's condition also improves dramatically.


Marly, her parents, and her brother go to a place where their grandmother once lived called Maple Hill. There the people are so nice to each other that they know everybody's name, and they are very kind to each other. They help each other when any help is needed. It is unlike the city, where people barely talk to each other and like to gossip behind others' backs. Therefore, it is very easy for people to feel tired and upset. Marly's father is back from the war, suffering from mood swings and depression, and seems to be tired all the time. Lee, Marly's mother, decides to moves to Maple Hill so that her father will not suffer as much as in the city and will be able to get rid of his PTSD. They are supported by a neighbor couple, Mr. and Mrs. Chris, who make their living with maple syrup. Marly and her brother adapt to living in the country very well, and eventually become happier there. Their father's condition also improves dramatically.

When Mr. Chris has a heart attack during sugaring time, Marly's family steps forward to return the kindness that the Chrises have shown them. They collect the entire crop of sap and boil it down, but they are certain that they lack Mr. Chris's deft touch with making syrup. When Mr. Chris is allowed to return home, it is the moment of truth: is their syrup as good as Mr. Chris'? Mr. Chris himself is unable to detect any difference. Marly reflects that the recovery of her father and Mr. Chris, the growing strength of bonds within her family, and the second chances for life and love are the true miracles of Maple Hill.


Main characters[edit]

  • Marly, a young girl, the main character, who discovers the miracles of nature at her grandmother's cabin.
  • Joe, Marly's older brother who wants to return to the city until he makes his own discoveries.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Marly's mom, decides that the family needs an extended stay away from the city at Grandmother's house.
  • Marly's dad, a World War II veteran who is physically and spiritually damaged but finds healing in the countryside.
  • Mr. Chris, the friendly older neighbor and maple farmer who shares the joys of country life with Marly's family.
  • Mrs. Chris, takes care of the two families and all the remaining farm work.
  • Harry, a mysterious hermit eventually befriended by Joe.


A full cast audio adaptation narrated by Cynthia Bishop was released in 2005 with each character brought to life by a unique personality and voice.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The Hurry Hill Maple Farm Museum located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania has an exhibit dedicated to the book and its author, titled "Miracles on Maple Hill: Where the seasons take on new meaning."[3]


The story, written by Virginia Sorensen, is told in past tense and uses the third person. The words used are simple and easy to understand. They are mostly conversations between Marly and her family, as well as other people in the countryside of Maple Hill. This story includes fourteen chapters and each chapter is very short. The total pages are less than 250.

Critical Reception[edit]

Miracles on Maple Hill was published to very strong reviews. Kirkus Reviews called it "a complete and realistic family story",[4] while the School Library Journal found it "skillfully dramatized" and an "inspiring American classic".[5] The New York Times Book Review[6] called the book "Warm and real as her two previous books centering about a 10-year-old 'curious Missle' and 'Plain Girl'-this one packed with incident, country magic, family love and people to remember; it has substance and spiritual worth."[7]


  1. ^ Erie Hall of Fame. "Nominee: Virginia Sorensen". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Woodfill, Wendy (September 2005). "Miracles on Maple Hill". School Library Journal. 51 (9): 79. 
  3. ^ Hurry Hill Maple Farm Museum Association. "Miracles on Maple Hill -- The Book and Exhibit". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Miracle on Maple Hill". www.kirkusreviews.com. Kirkus Media LLC. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Miracles on Maple Hill". www.bibliocommons.com. Calgary Public Library. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Sarah Chokla Gross, "For Younger Readers." New York Times (1923-Current file): 1. Aug 26 1956. ProQuest. Web. 16 May 2016.
  7. ^ Sarah Chokla Gross Reviews
Preceded by
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Rifles for Watie