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Author: White, Ruth
In rural Kentucky in 1955, Serilda Collins, single mother of four lively girls, discovers that her orphaned nephew is being subjected to brutality.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 68684
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 33342
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Kirkus Reviews (02/01/03)
School Library Journal (+) (03/03)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (04/03)
The Hornbook (05/03)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2003 Gr 4-8-Reminiscent of White's Belle Prater's Boy (Farrar, 1996), this first-person narrative is set in Appalachia in the 1950s and told in the lilting tones of Kentucky hill-country speech. Carolina Collins is the youngest of four daughters, all of whom seem to have found what is special about them. Kentucky, the oldest at 14, is the most popular; 12-year-old Virginia is the prettiest; and Georgia, at 11, is the smartest. Mama, a single mother, works hard but indulges the girls' whims to the point that money goes toward a movie matinee rather than the electric bill. Indeed, the Collins girls have a reputation for being loud, spoiled, and whining. Their cousin Tadpole, a charismatic 13-year-old orphan with an optimistic outlook, arrives, having run away from his uncle, who has beaten him with a horsewhip and treated him as free labor. The fact that the uncle's son died a mysterious death adds an ominous note to the story. But Tad stays upbeat, inventing his own truths when the truth hurts too much. He loves playing the guitar and singing country music, and he helps Carol realize that this is her special talent, too. After Mama loses the court battle to remove Tad from his uncle's guardianship, the boy runs away to Nashville, leaving Carol his guitar and his belief in her. The sisters learn a hard lesson about their behavior, and the family's future changes when Mama meets a man with four sons. White skillfully re-creates the time and place, and her superbly drawn characters possess the resiliency of spirit necessary to transform themselves.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2003 Although the theme here is as serious as White’s earlier Memories of Summer (BCCB 9/00) and her Newbery Honor book Belle Prater’s Boy (BCCB 4/96), the tone is lighter and the plot more straightforward. We are never in doubt that Tad(pole), the orphan at the center of a struggle between his abusive paternal uncle and his soft-hearted maternal aunt, will find his freedom; nor is there any question that his ten-year-old cousin, Carolina, who narrates the story, will find her special talent in the shadow of three sisters who are popular, pretty, and brainy, in that order. This is a fifties Appalachian family story replete with poor but happy clans whose response to music is as traditional as their Fourth of July picnic fare of "fried chicken and baked ham, taters fixed five different ways, and about ten other kinds of vegetables, salads, watermelon and muskmelon, all kinds of bread and real butter, cakes, pies, and cold drinks a’plenty." The threat to Tad is kept looming and distant, the courtship of Carolina’s mother by an upright new suitor resolves in marriage after she makes sure he pays more attention to his own four boys, and all four of her own girls learn responsibility from Tad, who also helps Carolina develop her gift for playing the guitar and singing harmony. The occasional insertion of a mysterious fantasy life that keeps Tad’s spirits strong gives us a taste of the deeper currents that have characterized White’s other stories. Even without such depths, however, the chipper writing, big loud cast prone to playful dialogue, and plentiful action keep the story worry-free and easy to read. - Copyright 2003 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 05/01/2003 Ten-year-old Carolina Collins has three loud, boisterous older sisters, each exceptional in her own way and well known in their small, 1950s Appalachian town. Carolina feels like the runt and nobody at all, until a beloved, orphaned cousin, Tadpole, comes to stay. Fleeing a cruel guardian, Tadpole hides with Carolina, her sisters, and single mother, winning the hearts of the neighbors with his fun-loving generosity and charm. He also transforms the Collinses' house, gently encouraging the girls to appreciate and support their mother and helping Carolina to find her special talent. The story is written in Carolina's age-appropriate voice, and the colorful, hill-country language will be familiar to White's fans, as will the warm portrayal of poor, small-town life and the appealing characters, especially the children who overcome abuse and discover their gifts. White also nicely captures a child's gradually widening view of the world, in which change is constant and mothers aren't just parents: they have insecurities, complicated histories, and even boyfriends of their own. - Copyright 2003 Booklist.