I first came across this title on Rosi Hollinbeck’s blog back in January. Historical Fiction is a favorite of mine, especially one set in the 1940s. Her review convinced me it was a must read, but the release date was still seven months away. I also had a pile of other books to review. I forgot about the book until it received a starred Kirkus review in late March.

Shortly after I received an inquiry to review the book on ALWAYS in the MIDDLE and finally got my own copy in late April. Still backed up with review requests, I didn’t have a chance to read it until last month and today I can finally share my thoughts.

The plot unfolds in 20 chapters, each with three alternating POV’s—Julie, Martha, and Bruno. Their personalities and thoughts are different, and at the beginning Julie and Bruno aren’t even talking to each other. The baby is found right away, but most of the pages center on what brought them to the point of finding this abandoned child. There’s also the hurt a world war brought to many families and friends when the people they love are halfway around the world fighting for a cause.

The pacing is perfect and the story is a great place to start for a fifth or sixth grader to begin learning about World War II. A read-aloud would make for a natural discussion starter at home or school.

Here’s the Official Synopsis:

On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, Ben, who is serving in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library carrying a baby in a basket, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper. Of course, the truth about the baby they’ve found is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest.



  1. I’d figured out who the baby belonged to before the climatic end, but not why it was left for someone to find. The reason made me smile.
  2. Centered around a library’s grand opening in a seaside town, the history was infused even more with the special guest who arrives for the festivities.
  3. The misunderstandings between Julie and Bruno were infused throughout the plot. Right on target with how boys and girls often don’t get what the other is doing.
  4. Young readers will like that the adults are kept in the background. The thoughts of each child moves the plot forward.
  5. History refuses to be boring with a sweet, fulfilling tale like THE SUMMER WE FOUND THE BABY.


Amy Hest is the author of many beloved books for young readers, including Remembering Mrs. Rossi, Letters to Leo, and the Katie Roberts novels. She is also the author of many picture books, including Kiss Good Night, When Jessie Came Across the Sea, and On the Night of the Shooting Star. Amy lives in New York City. 



I received an ARC for my honest review. Comments are always welcome below!

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Glad you found time to read this. I really enjoy historical fiction from the 1940’s too so will check it out. Thanks.

  2. I also enjoyed reading this book. It really is a gentle, sweet story, like a breath of fresh air in today’s world.

  3. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I enjoy the setting of this book and will be placing a hold on it from my library. Thanks for the review today.

  4. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This book sounds excellent! It’s interesting how it adds a touch of mystery to a WWII setting. Thanks for the great review!

  5. Enjoyed your thoughts on this book. Glad you enjoyed it too. I figured out who the baby belonged too before the reveal. I agree with you, the story is more about how a community deals with WWII on the homefront, with loved ones serving.

  6. Jenni says:

    I thought this sounded amazing when Rosi reviewed, but your thoughts make me what to read this right away. The cover and the seaside setting are intriguing, and I love that the question of the story is right there in the title. I tend to be reticent to read another WWII book as I’ve read so many, but this one sounds really unique and different.

  7. Ooh, I think I might like this one. I love historical fiction! Thanks for your review…

  8. So glad you got a chance to read this. I loved it too. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Antoinette Truglio Martin says:

    Love reading and writing historical fiction. This one goes on my list.

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