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Author: Dowell, Frances O'Roark
In a series of letters to her cousin, twelve-year-old Arie Mae relates her life in a mountain valley of North Carolina in the 1920s.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 168139
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 8.40
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 63845
Kirkus Reviews (06/15/14)
School Library Journal (08/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/10/14)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2014 Gr 4–6—Arie Mae Sparks is pining for one true friend. Instead of waiting to see if one turns up, she sends a letter to a cousin she has never met, Caroline, whose mother left the mountains of North Carolina long ago. There is no reply but Arie Mae isn't easily deterred. She keeps writing about her family and all the local happenings. Two ladies have come to the mountains to both preserve the culture they find there and to improve the residents' lot in life by teaching them traditional crafts and life skills. These "songcatchers" love Arie Mae's mother's ballad singing, largely because those songs originated in the mountains. By the same token, they loathe anything new (like the songs Arie Mae's father is fiddling) because those will eventually dilute the unique local culture. Arie Mae finally finds a kindred spirit in Tom, a young boy with a twisted foot and a burning desire to be a news reporter, whose family is visiting from Baltimore. Arie Mae leads Tom to all the colorful places her home has to offer until Tom's mother warns her that Tom has a weak heart and shouldn't be traipsing about the mountains. Dowell's latest is a sweet story told through the protagonist's one sided correspondence, mixed with first person narrative. Arie Mae is a natural storyteller and the beauty and the simplicity of life in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1920's seeps through the pages. It's also a satisfying tale of mending fences.—Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.