From School Library Journal
Grade 4–7—Eleven-year-old Autumn wants nothing more than to leave Cades Cove for the greater excitement of Knoxville, but she doesn't want to see it destroyed in the making of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Government workers have assured her enthusiastic grandfather that their town will be outside the boundaries, and will prosper from the tourist trade. But Autumn learns from the CCC workers that this is not true and she watches them tear down her childhood home. She has to get Gramps to change his mind. Setting her story in eastern Tennessee in 1934, Tubb ably conveys the beauty of the park area as well as less-attractive aspects of its history. Besides being a "sneak and a schemer" in Autumn's eyes, Gramps is a lively storyteller, and bits of Appalachian folklore are smoothly woven into the narrative. He is really the focus of the novel, the character who changes and whose efforts preserve at least a portion of the family's world. In spite of her folksy first-person voice, Autumn doesn't really come alive to lift the story beyond its historical and geographical interest.—Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
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In1934, spunky 11-year-old Autumn Winifred Oliver lives in picaresque Cades Cove, deep in the Great Smoky Mountains. Her crusty Grandpa is involved in a federal plan to convert the surrounding land into a national park, which would allow the locals to cash in on the anticipated tourism. But after Autumn realizes that the government is actually plotting to level Cades Cove, she tries everything in her power to stop the destruction. She writes a letter to Mr. John D. Rockefeller, requesting that he withdraw his funding, and she even turns her flatulent bloodhound loose on a group of park builders. While the eventual compromise is not entirely pleasing to either side, Autumn is satisfied that she did her best to keep her precious holler “as durn near perfect as possible.” Tubb’s inventive heroine comes across as a female version of familiar characters, such as Gary Paulsen’s Harris or Robert Newton Peck’s Soup. This homespun tale, full of folksy humor and based on historical fact, will appeal to young fans of Deborah Wiles’ and Ruth White’s books. Grades 4-6. --Jennifer Hubert