Since I am writing a middle-grade book, I like to read middle-grade books to keep me in the mood! Someone recommended this book to me. It won a Newberry Award.
Stats: print – 280 pages, audio (which is the route I went) 5.5 hours/5 CD’s. Published in 1996. I’m not sure what genre it is written for.
Blurb: As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold — the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.
What I liked: Overall, it was a good story. It started out very slow – which surprised me for an award-winning book and a book for middle-grade readers, but my guess is it’s used more by teachers than it is picked up by children – the main topics in the story are pretty heavy for young readers (mothers leaving families – I won’t give details and spoil the story for you) but the topics are handled well for this age group. I like how Creech weaves the main character’s (Sal’s) story within her friend’s (Phoebe’s) story and how Sal’s grandparents take Sal on a trip to help her learn some things about her missing mother. Hope Davis is the narrator of the version I listened to. She does a wonderful job with all of the character’s voices.
What I didn’t like: I am not familiar with Kentucky, and I’m not sure of the time that this story is supposed to have taken place, but I was put off by the way Creech gives Sal’s grandparents a foolish, backwoods Kentucky stereotype. One example of this is how they never get Phoebe’s name right. And for a thirteen year old, even one growing up in the country, Sal comes off as eight or nine, not thirteen. Phoebe is very paranoid, which is fine for a side-kick character – but Sal falls for her paranoia a bit to easily for my taste – again, that age thing. The main themes of the story are handled a bit heavy-handedly, in fact, someone (I won’t tell you who) leaves direct themed messages on Phoepe’s doorstep, such as the one the title is based off of: ‘Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasin.’ I also didn’t like the convoluted names of Sal: Salamanca Tree Hiddle, and her mother’s name is similarly odd but I can’t remember it at the moment. She is supposed to have some Indian in her family tree, but still – seems too forced.