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The Trouble with May Amelia

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About the Author

Jennifer L. Holm is the Newbery Honor-winning author of Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise, as well as the co-creator of the popular BabyMouse graphic novel series. She lives in Northern California with her family.


* "Anyone interested in learning to write crowd-pleasing historical fiction for elementary school readers would be wise to study Holm's work. Since Our Only May Amelia (HarperCollins, 1999), Holm has collected three Newbery Honors, and this sequel demonstrates her mastery of writing a complete, exciting story in a trim novel. Twelve-year-old May Amelia Jackson lives on a farm in Washington State in 1900 with her parents, Finnish immigrants, and a passel of brothers. Life is hard, but Holm works humor into even the grimmest situations, and Gustavson's chapter-opening spot art adds a cozy, atmospheric touch. A ransacking bull (named Friendly) knocks down the outhouse (with May Amelia inside); suitors romancing Miss McEwing are sent packing in various, inventive ways lest the school lose its beloved teacher. Judicious use of Finnish phrases adds flavor, and details ground the story in an era when boys were still routinely "shanghaied" (involuntarily pressed into service on ships bound for Asia). "Best Brother" Wilbert tells her she's as irritating as a grain of sand in an oyster, and it's mighty fun to watch May Amelia morph into a pearl. --"Publishers Weekly", starred review "Holm incorporates warmth, humor, excitement and even a wedding into her story. . . . Narrating events in dryly witty, plainspoken first-person, this indomitable teen draws readers in with her account, through which her world comes alive. Readers who enjoyed the first novel should embrace May Amelia again and may well believe that the only "trouble" with her is that the sequel didn't happen sooner. -- "Kirkus Reviews"

In this long-awaited sequel to Our Only May Amelia, the titular preteen heroine's Finnish-American immigrant family faces new difficulties: young cousins who have been through great trauma visit, and the family may lose its farm. Narrator Maria Dalbotten creates a believable May Amelia, the high pitch and bright tone of her voice bringing the character to life. However, the narrator uses the same voice for every character, even formidable pappa, who rules over May Amelia and her brood of seven brothers. Since much of the novel's action is conveyed through dialogue, Dalbotten's narration is ineffective. Additionally, the narrator's careful enunciation fails to match up to the characters' unrefined vernacular. This audio rendition is entertaining but doesn't quite do justice to the novel. Ages 8-12. An Atheneum hardcover. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 5-7-May Amelia Jackson, 12, needs sisu (that's Finnish for having guts), and lots of it, to survive on the Washington frontier in 1900 as the only girl in a family (her parents are Finnish immigrants) with seven big brothers and a father who thinks girls are useless. She finally thinks she's proved her worth when she translates for a polished stranger who wants to buy the family's land and make them rich. But when the stock they purchase turns out to be a scam and the bank takes the family farm, everyone blames May Amelia, especially her Poppa. How can she possibly make things right again? In this sequel (Atheneum Books, 2011) to Jennifer Holm's Newbery-Honor winning Our Only May Amelia (HarperCollins, 1999), the author spins a memorable yarn that can stand on its own, featuring one of the most appealing heroines in contemporary historical fiction. Listeners will laugh out loud at Amelia's comic adventures with a bull, ironically named Friendly, who terrorizes their school and her vain attempts to keep her favorite teacher from getting married. Holm doesn't whitewash the hardships of frontier life, and the Jacksons are no strangers to back-breaking hard work, violence, and grief. Narrator Maria Dalbotten is pitch perfect in capturing May Amelia's spunky, salt-of-the-earth voice, with both the comic and heartwarming side of the story exceptionally well-rendered.-Margo Tanenbaum, Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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