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The Most Beautiful Place in the World

For ages 8-11

Book coverAbandoned by his parents, seven-year-old Juan lives with his grandmother in the mountains of Guatemala.  It’s a place of spectacular natural beauty, where volcanoes rise from the shores of the blue lake and brilliantly plumed wild parrots flock in the trees.  Juan must work to support his grandmother by shining shoes in front of the Tourist Office.  “It’s not a hard life,” he admits, but secretly he dreams of other things.  And more than anything, he would like to go to school.

This novel gives American children a look into the lives and circumstances of “Third world” children in a way that’s wrenching and immediate, but that also offers hope and triumph.  The novel is based on the lives of children I’ve known in Guatemala—particularly the life of one young neighbor of mine, determined to succeed despite poverty and rejection.  That boy has now become an architect and his life is inspiring me to a write sequel.

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