Wishing for Tomorrow

Written by Hilary McKay
Review by Ellen Keith

This sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess tells readers what happened to Sara Crewe’s friends at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies rather than focusing on Sara herself. She had her happy ending but what happened to those she left behind? Her departure has left her best friend Ermengarde lonely once more although charged by Sara to look out for the incorrigible Lottie. Snooty Lavinia, whom Sara had displaced, regains her status as head girl but has inherited some of Sara’s fortitude, determined to get the education that Miss Minchin isn’t giving her. And Alice, replacing Becky as scullery maid, defies Miss Minchin and turns the girls into the younger sisters she left behind, somehow pulling the Tom Sawyer trick of getting them to do her household chores.

Sequels to beloved classics can be hard to pull off, but McKay succeeds, in part because she takes the focus off of Sara, still a memorable character to me, even after more years than I care to count have passed since I first encountered her. The hothouse world of Miss Minchin’s—girls confined together in school whether they like each other or not—is ripe for storytelling, and Ermengarde, Lottie, and Lavinia each take on more three-dimensional characteristics than they did in Burnett’s original. Even Miss Minchin herself becomes human. Nothing can displace A Little Princess for me, but Wishing for Tomorrow is one I’ll give my niece after she’s read the original. Ages 8-12.