350E: Supposedly Heroic Girl Dies in Apartment House Fire (Solved!)

Looking for a 1970s ya fiction book about a girl who died in an apartment house fire. Everyone thought that she was a hero because she alerted the other tenants to the fire so they could get out. Actually, it was her brother who had done the alerting while she went back to her apartment to get her shoe box of paper doll families. This was a much darker sequel to a book about a brother, a sister and another girl. Think the title may have been something like “The truth about (girl’s name)”, but not positive. Don’t remember author but know I read it right after it came out somewhere between 1969 and 1980.

8 thoughts on “350E: Supposedly Heroic Girl Dies in Apartment House Fire (Solved!)

  1. Michelle, if you like Sachs, check out The Bears’ House (1971), if you haven’t. Here’s part of what I wrote at the Abebooks Community Forum, in 2017 (edited for accuracy):

    How many remember this one? It was a National Book Award finalist. (It’s about a family of five neglected kids and the abandoned mother, who’s had a nervous breakdown – the middle child is the narrator and takes refuge in the fantasy world of her school’s dollhouse.)…

    …If possible, get a copy with Louis Glanzman’s illustrations – that is the only edition where Fran Ellen looks appropriately grubby on the cover. (BTW, I now realize just why the mother’s bedroom smelled really bad, even to Fran – can you guess?)

    In a 1989 pink-cover Avon edition, Sachs says: “When I was eight, my mother was in a terrible accident and spent nearly a year in the hospital. Nothing was right that year except for one thing: A kind, sympathetic teacher gave me a doll’s house. It saved my life that year, and I never forgot it. When I grew up and became a writer, I tried to tell the story the way it happened to me. But it didn’t work. Over the years I tried to tell it in different ways, until I finally wrote The Bears’ House. Fran Ellen’s family and circumstances were very different from mine, but the joy over her Bears’ House comes very close to the joy I felt over mine.”

  2. Lenona, thanks for including that about Marilyn Sachs writing about her mother’s accident. I never knew that. Her Amy and Laura trilogy includes this plot point — in “Amy Moves In” their mother is in an accident and remains in the hospital for the rest of the book. In “Laura’s Luck” the sisters go to camp, from which they write letters to her in the hospital. In “Amy and Laura” their mother finally returns home, which requires adjustments by the family. How amazing to know that the author lived that kind of experience. (Some of he Ganz family, of the Mary Rose book, make cameo appearances in the Amy series.)

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