Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eleven-year-old Margo Bandini and her family live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, during the Great Depression. Papa owns a shoe repair shop and often accepts payment in the form of food or goods since few people have money. Margo’s younger brother, Charlie, was hospitalized after his leg became infected. Although he is home now, his medical bills have put an even greater financial strain on the family.

When Charlie goes missing for a short time, Margo blames the town gypsies. Margo’s parents urge her not to make judgments about the poor. They strive to give whatever they can to help the hungry and jobless, even though they have little themselves. Margo’s friend Rosa has parents who often argue. Rosa’s father finally leaves town in search of work. Margo and Rosa like to think about first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her world travels. They also watch a mysterious woman in a hat taking the train to the city every other Sunday. They imagine she is a rich lady or a spy.

Margo’s teacher, Miss Dobson, shows the class news articles on the Great Depression. Margo especially likes reading stories by a journalist named E.D. Kirby. Miss Dobson tells the students about the chain reaction that has caused the nation’s financial struggles. She says it’s like dominoes: When one falls, the others begin going down as well. Margo sees this happening on her own street, and eventually, to her own family. The Bandinis learn the bank is going to take their home because they can’t pay the bills. Papa gives Margo the Victory Medal he earned for fighting in the Great War, hoping it will give her courage.

Miss Dobson asks each student to write a letter to someone famous. When Margo learns that Eleanor Roosevelt often responds to letters personally, she writes to the first lady. Margo tells Miss Dobson her family only has a few weeks before they lose their house, so Miss Dobson promises to get the letter to Mrs. Roosevelt quickly. Margo includes her father’s medal in the letter, asking Mrs. Roosevelt to return it if she can help and to keep it for courage if she cannot.

Shortly before eviction day, Margo comes home to find the sheriff and the bank president in her house with her parents. She fears they’re being kicked out early, but she learns instead that the men have received instructions from Eleanor Roosevelt. The bank has made an arrangement that will allow the family to keep their home. The bank president also tells Margo that in order to get the rest of the first lady’s message and her medal back, she must speak to E.D. Kirby.

She asks Miss Dobson how she can find the journalist. Miss Dobson reveals that she is E.D. Kirby, the mysterious woman Margo has seen taking the train to the city. She and Mrs. Roosevelt have been fellow journalists and friends for many years. Miss Dobson returns Papa’s medal along with a note from Mrs. Roosevelt. The first lady writes that it gives her courage to hear from young people like Margo. As the story ends, Margo and her family enjoy an evening on their street and reflect on the health and happiness they’ve found in America.

Christian Beliefs

The Bandinis attend a Catholic church. A nun in a hospital sneaks Margo past Mother Superior so she can see her brother.

Other Belief Systems

A superstitious neighbor blames el diavolo (the Devil) for bringing the Great Depression. She’s also convinced her sighting of a shooting star is a bad omen.

Authority Roles

Margo’s loving parents are hard workers. They provide for the needs of others, even though they have little themselves. Miss Dobson shows Margo that many things are possible in America, including female journalists and personal responses from the president’s wife in times of crisis. Mrs. Roosevelt demonstrates compassion for the struggling families of the day by answering many letters and providing tangible aid. One teacher thinks immigrant families like Margo’s should change their last name to something that sounds less Italian.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

In an endnote, the author explains this story is based on true events. Mrs. Roosevelt helped the author’s ancestors during the Great Depression.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


C. Coco DeYoung






Record Label



Delacorte Press, part of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!