I remember reading as a child a fictional short story about the difficulties that an English girl had fitting in after moving to America. The children at her school make fun of her using words like "sums". When she tells her teacher about her family's tradition of riding a train to the countryside on her birthday and gathering wild primroses, she is informed that primroses do not grow in America. She had been hoping that her guardian (adoptive aunt?) would be able to take her to celebrate her birthday like her mother used to. I think the the character's name was Merry (not Mary) because I remember the other children circling around her and teasing "Merry Sums!"

I would expect that this short story would have been written between 1930 and 1980. I read it in about 1988, and any inaccuracies in the description above are due to my fallible memory. Can anyone identify this story and its author?


1 Answer 1


Googling for the exact phrase "merry sums" leads to the book Primrose Day by Carolyn Haywood. The search results page in the book show the girl's teacher explaining to her that they say "examples" instead of "sums" and is quickly followed by a scene in which other kids tease her "Oh, Merry Sums! How are your sums today?" The title itself is also a strong hint that the other major identification point is covered.

The copyright page says it was first published in 1942.

  • Thank you. I, of course, had Googled this several ways, but was unable to find it.
    – Mike
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:25
  • 1
    +1 for correct answer. There's also a Goodreads page for this book, which includes more info in the summary and reviews, without the Japanese text that's in your Google Books link. (cc @Mike)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:28
  • @Randal'Thor the Japanese text is probably due to the .co.jp domain - my own language settings mean that I only see English even with that.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:51

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