Monday, January 30, 2012

May B by Caroline Starr Rose


About the Book: May has been sent to a neighbor's homestead to help out. It's only for a few months and it's a way her family can earn some extra money. Plus, it's not like she's doing much in school anyway-she's having trouble reading, so why does she need school? The neighbor's new bride isn't liking life on the Kansas prairie and she needs help cooking and cleaning. But when a tragedy leaves May alone as winter approaches, May must rely on her wits to survive.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: May B is a book that appeals to my tween self. If I had read this as a tween, I would have devoured and loved. I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and living on the frontier (of course it was much more glamorous in my mind!) so this book was right up my ally.

May's story is told in verse which packs a powerful punch to May's journey. It works well because for most of the novel, May is alone, trapped in a snowstorm and trying to survive. I tend to not like books with little dialogue and with May on her own for most of the story, there's not a lot of dialogue happening in this book. But the verse format worked well for the story. It shows the seriousness of May's situation-she is alone and trying her best to survive. I felt May's emotions and related to her more with the verse poetry. Each poem was like a glimpse into her thoughts instead of reading one long passage of her internal narration. I'm probably not describing it very well, but it worked wonderfully to help tell this story!

There's also a storyline that deals with May's dyslexia. May dreams of growing up and becoming a teacher, but she can't read. She's always had trouble in school and she had one teacher who has encouraged her dreams and one who has not. May has a difficult time trying to figure out who to believe and if she should hang onto her dreams of teaching. The nice thing is that her struggle with dyslexia isn't laid out all at once and told to us. We're shown slowly throughout the novel that May is struggling in school. This works well because we come to discover May's dyslexia by it being shown to us instead of being told.

The frontier aspect of the story will have lots of appeal to fans of historical fiction. May describes the household, the landscape and her struggle to survive. I would hand this book over to readers of Little House on the Prairie who I'm sure would love it.

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