Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mighty Miss Malone review

The Mighty Miss Malone
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Wendy Lamb Books
January 2012

First line: "Once upon a time... If I could get away with it that's how I'd begin every essay I write."

Tenacious 12 year old Deza Malone handles everything life throws at her with irrepressible spirit in this  companion novel to Bud, Not Buddy. Starved for work during the Great Depression, her father disappears and the family attempts to reunite with him by traveling across the country. They end up in a "Hoovertown" - an improvised tent city full of other folks down on their luck. This is the first book with a female protagonist that Curtis has written - I enjoyed his attempt, even if I thought he writes a male voice much better.

Deza's a promising student, but school becomes difficult if not impossible with all of the family's financial difficulties that drag them down. Her teeth are rotting so badly, that she nearly faints from the pain, and of course, paying a dentist is completely out of the question. This all sounds pretty grim, but luckily Deza and her brother Jimmy approach everything with such pluck and humor the book is actually a fairly amusing read. Deza makes everything sound like a grand adventure, even living out of a tent in a park.

This seems like a good introduction to the Depression era for children. Plenty of serious topics like racism, homelessness and poverty are explored but never at a level that children will find inaccessible or too overwhelming. Despite the blatant racism the Malone family has to face, there is an upbeat ending - things get wrapped up pretty neatly. 

Compare to:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred D. Taylor
My Name is Sally Little Song - Brenda Woods
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

I borrowed this book from the library.

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