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Little Audrey [Kindle Edition]

Ruth White
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $7.59
You Save: $7.40 (49%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

“What else would you wish for?” Daddy says. “If you could have anything in the world, what would you wish for?”
I shrug. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe . . .”
“Maybe what?”
“For us to live better than we do.”
He does not say anything.


In 1948, award-winning author Ruth White lived in Jewell Valley, a coal camp nestled between the hills of southwestern Virginia, with her mother, still mourning for a baby who died four years earlier; her father, who spent the weekends and most of his pay out drinking; and her three older sisters, Audrey, Yvonne, and Eleanor. Told in Audrey’s voice, this is how the author imagines Audrey’s experiences during a time of great trauma for the White family – and what happened before they were able to live a better life.

This snapshot of life in a coal camp, complete with everyday heartaches and joys – as well as stories, songs, and jokes – is Ruth White’s most personal work to date.
Little Audrey is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–7—In the voice of her sister Audrey at age 11, White has created a fictionalized memoir of her life as a child in a Virginia coal mining camp. It is 1948, and the family is living in grinding poverty with an alcoholic father and a mother who suffers periods of depression. School bullies torment Audrey, calling her Skeleton Girl (her weight "fell off" during a bout of scarlet fever), and dare her to climb the water tank at night and walk around the perimeter. Shining through the gloom are Audrey's friendship with classmate Virgil, whose cleverness averts the potential water-tank catastrophe, and the compassion of her teacher, Miss Stairus, beloved by all. Audrey's physical hunger and her longing for a better life are palpable, but it is only through tragedy that a better future emerges for the Whites. Details of setting and time are pitch perfect; spare, lyrical language combines skillfully with dialect; and humor infuses the story as the kids share jokes, including some based on the "Little Audrey" comic strip. Characters are carefully drawn and nuanced, and there is neither saccharine sentimentalism in Audrey's relationship with her younger sisters whom she calls the three little pigs, nor are her father and his enabling parents demonized. A note to readers and cover and interior photographs of Audrey and her mother and sisters make this story all the more real and compelling. A little gem.—Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Based on incidents from her own life and told in the voice of her older sister, Audrey, White offers a heartfelt story of what it’s like to be poor, hungry, and sometimes happy. It’s 1948, and Audrey lives in a Virginia coal-mining camp with her father, who drinks; her mother, who drifts away, if not physically, emotionally; and her sisters, “the three little pigs.” Eleven-year-old Audrey has her own troubles. Illness has left her eyesight compromised, and she is so thin kids call her Skeleton Girl. Yet it’s her family’s troubles that weigh on her most. Will her father’s need for drink rob them of the money they need for food? Will her mother’s sadness about the death of baby Betty Gail pull her even further away from the family that’s left? This is a small book, both in size and in the scope of its story. Yet it is fierce in its honesty while remaining utterly childlike. The first-person narrative allows readers to see clearly, through Audrey’s damaged eyes, the real people who inhabit this world, a place where smiles come from a movie or a piece of candy, and how hunger or the fear of it taints everything. A tough, tender story. Grades 5-8. --Ilene Cooper

Product Details

  • File Size: 191 KB
  • Print Length: 157 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374345805
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00633W77M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,054 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find November 30, 2008
It's 1948 and Audrey lives with the little piggies( her three younger sisters) and parents in Jewell Valley, a coal mining camp in Southwest, Virginia. Her mother is in her own little world moaning the death of her baby sister. Audrey is called skeleton by the other kids on account of how thin she is. Her father goes on drinking binges and sometimes doesn't come home.

But Audrey tries to not dwell on that. Her friend Virgil makes her laugh with his monkey jokes. Also she looks forward to the weekly treat of going to the 10 cent movie with her mother and sisters.

Audrey wishes for more. And one night on a shooting star, she does just that.

I really loved this tale. The author uses her own life experiences to paint a very vivid world of a coal mining camp back in the later 40s. Not everything is grim. There's the time her grandparents show up and everyone has a feast. Afterwards, her daddy and grandfather sing. The voice is very authentic and I could see myself with Audrey in the camp. Audrey is a courageous heroine, who dispite her eyeglasses( she's the only one in camp with them) and two different colored eyes, stands up to the camp's bullies and still dreams of a better life.

A must read for all historical fiction fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter on the surface with a solid core August 5, 2009
Audrey feels "nearabout" grown up as she approaches 12, the oldest of four (well, it used to be five)sisters living in a coal mining town in Virginia. The year is 1938 and times are hard for just about everyone. Ruth White (author of a number of other books for young readers)draws strongly from events in her own life to create this fictional Audrey-- a tall and awkward girl with a reserve of inner strength. With her friend Virgil to tell her jokes, and her teacher Mrs. Stairus to look to as an example, Audrey finds glimmers of hope in a rather grim year.

This book has abundant humor and Audrey's language and expressions have the twang of a true country gal. It has a core of serious occurances, but never bogs down and leaves Audrey feeling sorry for herself. Virgil's riddles are priceless. If you want to know what's silent and smells like bananas, you'll have to read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Tough Story December 22, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a tough and tender story at the same time. Some kids will be pulled away from it. I had to read with my daughter and explain the context. Overall a nice story, will build character and strength into kids.
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By Meaghan
I have to say I really liked Audrey's voice. Normally I can't stand books written in dialect, but this provided an authentic Appalachian twang and it wasn't overdone. This is a good enough story for 9- to 12-year-old girls and might be useful if a school class was doing a unit on Appalachia. However it seemed kind of dull to me; not a whole lot happened in it. Even the ending seemed anticlimactic. But I still think kids would like it.
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