Changes for Addy

Published in 1994; author Connie Porter; illustrators Bradford Brown, Renee Graef, and Geri Strigenz Bourget


It's getting cold as winter hits Philadelphia. Addy's family has just gotten a letter from a freedman's camp (which helps newly freed slaves) that Uncle Solomon and Auntie Lula were there with Esther, but left a month ago, heading for Philadelphia. Addy wants to go look for them right away, but her parents point out that an elderly couple with a toddler would make slow progress: she should at least wait for morning.

She and Sam go looking for them, checking local hospitals. On the way home, Addy stops by her friend Sarah's. There, she learns that Sarah must quit school to help her mother take in laundry; the family is destitute. Addy is devastated. She and Sarah had made plans to apply to an education program that would help them become teachers themselves one day, but Sarah's family needs the extra income. Addy makes plans to visit Sarah often, and work on bits of schoolwork with her when possible. She even gives Sarah a slate for a Christmas present.

Over the next few weeks, Addy and Sam continue their search. As Christmas draws nearer, they're both busy with work (Addy delivers the dresses her mother and Mrs. Ford sew) but still find time wherever they can. One evening she stops by the church to light candles for her missing family members. It's not long before her prayers are heard: right there at the church, she sees Auntie Lula with Esther.

Addy leads the pair home, where the reunion is bittersweet. Mrs. Walker in particular is overcome with conflicting emotions, finally able to see and hold her daughter for the first time in over a year, but also realizing that her daughter doesn't know her. Auntie Lula also breaks the news that Uncle Solomon died shortly before they reached Philadelphia. But she tells everyone that he was at peace, finally a free man. Auntie Lula produces Addy's old doll, Janie, from her things and asks Esther who gave it to her. She says, "My sister, Addy." So while the two-year-old can't be expected to remember her immediate family, she clearly has been taught who they are, and that they love her. The family is able to celebrate the fact that Uncle Solomon died after achieving his life-long dream, and starts to get reacquainted. But two days before Christmas, Auntie Lula also dies.

Addy is broken up with sadness that she tells her mother she can't read the Emancipation Proclamation at the church's New Year celebration, as has been planned. Her mother counsels her that while they have lost significant things--two beloved grandparent figures, a year of Esther's life--they have to remember that they're all connected still. And the future is looking better and better. She encourages Addy to stay strong and to hope, and with her mother's advice, Addy agrees to read the Proclamation, to honor all the people who worked for freedom. After the celebration, Esther finds Addy in the crowd and holds her hand, indicating that she trusts Addy. Addy asks Esther where they're going, and the toddler replies, "Home." Addy agrees; they're going home together.

Looking Back

The historical section talks about the racial disparity that existed after the end of slavery, and how it's been gradually worn down over the years...and is still being worked on today.


This book is dedicated to "my editor, Bobbie Johnson--thanks for helping bring Addy to life."

The dress-making store where Addy's mother works gets a sewing machine.

I think Addy's stories evoke the most emotion in me, definitely more than the stories of the other characters I've read. Maybe the stories about Marie-Grace and Cécile or Caroline will though; time will tell.

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