Monday, October 8, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: May B.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

Today’s pick: May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

Schwartz & Wade, 2012

From Amazon:

I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return.
Something's happened.

"If May is a brave, stubborn fighter, the short, free-verse lines are one-two punches in this Laura Ingalls Wilder-inspired ode to the human spirit," raved Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.
May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

My take:
I read this novel in an afternoon and really enjoyed it. I loved reading all the “Little House” books when I was a girl (I even blogged about that once) and this book reminded me a little of those books. But the writing style was quite different and so were the situations and problems that May B. encountered. I got so involved in the story that May’s abandonment at the homestead took me by surprise and kept me hooked to the end to find out what happened. This is a great book for girls that enjoy reading about survival and pioneers. It’s also connects well to curriculum units on pioneers and early settlers.

As a writer, I loved the way the author created such compelling images and evoked deep emotion in very spare prose. This is a novel I want to have for my own bookshelf.

 Favourite quotes:

“Like a prairie hen I settle down until I can’t be seen, breathing comfort from grass and soil.”

“I sit in the rocker before the fire, thankful for hot coffee, and for the flicker of light cast on the cover of my book.”

“But tonight in this stillness, I realize there’s no shame in hoping for things that might seem out of reach.”

 Other info:

Caroline Starr Rose has lived in many places, including Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Mexico, where she now lives and writes fulltime.

According to an interview with Caroline Starr Rose over at The Reading Fever, one of the hardest scenes for Caroline to write was one where May reads a poem and struggles over her reading.

Caroline says this about her writing process: “While drafting, I imagined a quilt with each poem standing in for a different square of fabric. As I moved from poem to poem, I trusted certain themes and story strands would unfold, just as patterns form on a quilt.” From an interview with Caroline Starr Rose byauthor Augusta Scattergood.   

Other books written by this author include:

Over in the Wetlands (picture book, to be released in 2014)

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing Miss May here today! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed her.

  2. This is one that's been in my TBR pile for ages, and it looks like it's time to move it up near the top. The lines you quoted from the text are strong and lovely. Thank you, Andrea!

  3. I'm totally with Natalie (above comment). I've had this on my TBR list forever and just haven't gotten around to it~ but I want to! Thanks so much for the post and for putting it back on my radar :)

  4. Love that this one is a reminder of the Little House books, I remember loving them!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake


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