Cover image for A long time ago today
A long time ago today
Warner, Sally.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2003.
Physical Description:
198 pages ; 22 cm
Ever since her mother died six years earlier, twelve-year-old Dilly and her father spend every summer in upstate New York at Mummie's farm, even though Dilly resents how her dead mother continues to intrude on her life.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.3 7.0 75010.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Would you want to read a letter written to you by your mother six years ago? Even if your mother had died when you were only six years old? If she had left you "Snob Hill," a two-hundred-year-old farm in the Adirondacks which you both hate and love? And even if everyone only speaks of how perfect she was, never how she really was? Twelve-year-old Dilly Howell isn't so sure she wants to read that letter. What if it only makes her resent her mother more? But with the help of her father, her friends, and the memories uncovered during a summer at Snob Hill, Dilly discovers that her mother was someone that she still loves very much. With her "trademark combination of humor and compassion,"* Sally Warner shares a heartwarming love story between mother and daughter.

Author Notes

Sally Warner ( has published more than twenty novels for young readers, including the Emma and EllRay Jakes series. She lives in Altadena, California with her husband and their not-so-miniature dachshund, Rocky. 

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. In an unusual move, this novel opens with a prologue revealing the thoughts of a woman on her deathbed as she contemplates leaving her 6-year-old daughter, Dilly. Six years later, 12-year-old Dilly angrily packs her suitcase. Once again, she and her father will leave California to spend half the summer in the Adirondacks, as they used to do with Dilly's mother, whom she barely remembers. The tension between Dilly and the mother she imagines increases after she learns of a letter her mother wrote to her as she lay dying. Over the following weeks, Dilly searches the old summer house and uncovers secrets from the past that resonate in the present. Warner conveys Dilly's powerful, vacillating feelings toward her mother with conviction, yet this emotional core is only one aspect of the story, which also concerns Dilly's changing relationship with a longtime summer friend, her growing awareness of adults as individuals, and her realization of how the past burdens the present and what can be done about it. Peopled with complex, sympathetic characters, this is both entertaining and involving. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Dillon Howell, 12, is still angry with her mother for dying six years ago. Every summer she and her dad make the requisite trip from their home in California to her mother's family farm in the Adirondacks. Dilly resents the trip, the farm, and, most of all, her mother. The only good thing about Lake Luzerne is Sasha, who is the niece of her late mother's best friend, Libby. Lately, though, Sasha is less willing to leave her life and friends in Brooklyn to make the five-hour trek upstate. When Libby tells Dilly that her dying mother left her a letter, the girl is determined to find it and tear it up unread. Her search results in finding other exchanges between Elspeth and Libby; through them, she learns that the mother she always thought was so perfect was actually spoiled and selfish. Orphaned after an accident, she was shipped off to boarding school by her snobbish Granny Tat, who bullied Libby into attending as well. Now Sasha feels bullied into coming to Lake Luzerne whenever Dilly feels lonely. There is strife between the friends until the letter is finally found and read, by which time Dillon has come to terms with her loss and her evolving friendship with Sasha. Dilly's anger is convincing-at times she sounds like the emotional six-year-old she has remained ever since her mother's death. A painful, but realistic treatment of grief and healing.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.