About Family Reminders

The setting is Cripple Creek, Colorado in the late 1800s.  Ten-year-old Mary McHugh’s world is shattered when her father loses his leg in a mining accident.   As he sinks further and further into a deep depression, Mary has no choice but to take on the daunting task of saving her family.

Mary’s love for her father and her desire to get life back to “normal” push her to take a chance that restores her father’s spirit and brings her family a new life, strengthened by the hardships they have endured.


“…the episodic story vividly describes the way family life changes when terrible events occur and how families can also recover given time, patience and love.” –Kirkus

“When Mary’s cheerful, loving father loses a leg in an accident at the gold mine, he is despondent: no more jokes, rousing evenings at the patio, or artful whittling of the figurines he calls “Reminders” of the good times in their lives. Mary’s strong, down-to-earth mother does her best, taking in other miners’ laundry and refusing to give in to despair. But it’s Mary who rescues the situation, proving to her father that he is not a “one-legged miner who carvers” but instead a “one-legged artist who used to mine.”  –Horn Book Magazine

“This is a heartwarming novel about overcoming hardship..”   –School Library Journal

More reviews and a downloadable teacher’s guide at https://www.charlesbridge.com/products/family-reminders


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Award Master List, grades 3-5
  • NYSRA Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List, Intermediate grades
  • Land of Enchantment Book Award, Children’s Book Master Reading List

Buy the Book: Family Reminders