Sairy and Tiller Morey, an elderly couple, foster Dallas and Florida (13 year old twins) and help them to appreciate that not everyone is an enemy. Their plans are to go, each with one of the children, on a long trip in order to experience life apart after a long life lived together. Their simple, trusting and occasionally quirky ways win the children over.

A gentle story about a pair of prickly and fiercely united twins and an elderly married couple. Simple, wise, and occasionally grouchy, their children have long since left home, and they want one last chance to see a little of the world and to take someone with them. As the children learn not to treat everyone as an enemy, Sairy and Tiller’s eyes are opened to the appalling treatment given to the orphans by the orphanage owners and by the families who have fostered them.

The story stops short of being sentimental, not least of all because the characters are real. The Morey’s are not some make-believe ideal grandparents; they are occasionally opinionated, sometimes grumpy, but always ready to give another chance. Dallas and Florida take a while to overcome the ghosts of their previous bad trials at being fostered. They were left outside the orphanage as babies, wrapped up carefully. The Trepids, owners of the orphanage, are a mildly comic couple, running a heartless orphanage while naively planning on stealing from the Moreys. The Morey’s neighbor, “Z”, discovers that the twins’ registered mother was his estranged wife. They are probably his children, but he says nothing about this.

Sairy and Tiller are long-married and easily accept Florida and Dallas, making many allowances for their ignorance. The Morey household embodies the children’s yearning for somewhere to belong. It is simple and handcrafted, from the quilts to the handcarvings which Sairy and Tiller teach the twins to make. The food is simple and attractive with evocative smells. At first the children plan on getting enough money to escape somewhere. This is surprisingly easy as Sairy and Tiller pay them to work around the place. When it comes to it, though, the children find it difficult to go, and when they do leave one night, they wake up lost in the woods the next morning, with the elderly couple nearby cooking breakfast on a fire.

Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London.  He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.