By Lee C Batterman Illustrated by: James Wattling (218 Pages)Ages 8-11, 12+ Publisher: Alef Design Group, 1997
Twelve-year-old Leely Dorman has a big problem. She knows the right thing to do, but getting it done seems impossible. How can Leely, the child of Russian immigrants living in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, find the money to pay back a debt to her friend-especially when the Dorman family can barely afford to put food on the table for themselves? In this charming first novel, author Lee Chai'ah Batterman introduces readers to Leely, her brainy fifteen-year-old sister Evy, and Arnie, her tag-along brother, as they face a new neighborhood, a new school and new friends. Over the course of the novel, Leely becomes a faithful friend, an entrepreneur and the first girl in the neighborhood to study to become a Bat Mitzvah. The contrast of Leely's Jewish background and her best friend Francy's Italian heritage adds an especially colorful twist to their sweet friendship.
But it is Leely's moral dilemma-and her poignant and often humorous efforts to resolve it-that draws readers into this beautifully written tale of adolescent tribulations and family cohesiveness.
There is a life lesson to be learned in every chapter of TWO CENTS AND A MILK BOTTLE, from developing humane values and intercultural friendships to confronting sickness and death. And Leely proves herself a wonderfully capable teacher for young adults and their parents alike.