Author: Rhodes, Jewell Parker
Visiting her grandmother in the Louisiana bayou, ten-year-old Maddy begins to realize that she may be the only sibling to carry on the gift of her family's magical legacy.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.10
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 174062
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 2.40
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 66160
Kirkus Reviews (02/15/15)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/15)
Booklist (+) (03/15/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (09/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2015 Gr 3–6—Maddy lives with her family in New Orleans. At almost 10, she is the youngest of five girls, and this summer it will be her turn to stay with her grandmother in the bayou. Apprehensive about the visit—her sisters say Grandmère is a witch, whose house has no electricity or indoor plumbing—Maddy is also excited to discover Bon Temps. Soon, Grandmère teaches Maddy about healing herbs and their family history. When Maddy finds that she can call fireflies and see mermaids, Grandmère tells her the story of Mami Wata, the water spirit who accompanied their slave ancestors from Africa. Maddy soon comes to love the wetlands and the residents of Bon Temps, human and otherwise. So when the Gulf oil spill threatens the town, it is Maddy who must use her magic to save her new home. Some sensitive subject matter may be disturbing to younger readers—Maddy's friend has an alcoholic father who inadvertently hurts him and then later dies in the explosion. Maddy is a brave and hopeful heroine, and the descriptions of the bayou are almost as magical as her legacy. VERDICT Hand this to middle grade readers who enjoy family stories, history, and a dose of fanciful magic.—Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Brighton District Library, Brighton, MI - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/15/2015 *Starred Review* It’s 10-year-old Maddy’s turn to spend a summer with her maternal grandmother on the bayou in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She has heard stories from her sisters about the strange woman they call “Grandmére,” but Maddy can’t wait to go. During her stay, she meets the locals and makes friends with Bear, whose father works on a deepwater oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and who is looked after by the bayou people. Under Grandmére’s tutelage, Maddy learns her family’s history, important life lessons taught through wise, simple dictums, and becomes adept at watching and listening. She comes to understand that family magic is deep within her, and when she senses that something bad is about to happen, she realizes that the only one able to keep her beloved bayou from being destroyed is her. Environmental issues that have impacted and continue to threaten the Gulf Coast play a strong role, shaping Maddy’s understanding of humanity’s connection to the fragile ecosystem. Though her stirring coming-of-age story is set in a world of magic, folk history, and ritual that is easy to embrace, at the same time it revels in friendship and love, and reflects life in the Deep South. Looking to add diversity to your shelves? Look no further than the fascinating characters that populate Bon Temps and experience the community in which they live. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2015 Like her sisters before her, ten-year-old Maddy has been summoned from their New Orleans home to visit their mysterious Grandmère in the Bon Temps bayou. After hearing tales of outhouses and ghosts, Maddy is understandably nervous about visiting Grandmère, but the bayou, its people, and even her mystical grandmother eventually win her over. Maddy also discovers that, like Grandmère, she also has magical gifts: while out on an airboat with her new pal, Bear, Maddy spies what looks like a mermaid, one with dark skin like Maddy’s own. Soon, she realizes that the mermaid is Mama Wati, an African water spirit who watched over one of the family’s ancestors. As Maddy makes friends, explores the bayou, and develops her dream-like skill of interacting with Mama Wati, she feels a growing sense of dread. Savvy readers will connect Maddy’s visions of black tendrils in the water to Bear’s dad’s occupation-worker on a deep water oil rig. An explosion on the rig eventually kills Bear’s father and sends oil spewing out into the Gulf, but Maddy summons Mama Wati and her fellow mermaids to help save Bon Temps by creating an underwater levy. Rhodes’ understatedly poetic language keeps the mystical bits enchanting but never overblown. While there is a certain contrivance to the plot, the oil spill incident is handled without didacticism, the deaths of Bear’s unhappy father and multiple oil-covered birds are heart-rending moments, and the pacing is thoughtful but agile. Small, black and white spot art (resembling woodcut prints) attractively accent the beginnings of each chapter, and an author’s note briefly explains some of the sources of inspiration for this tale. Imaginative kids who enjoy immersing themselves in a reading experience will take to this like a mermaid to water. JH - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.