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4.6 out of 5 stars
Ruby Holler
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ruby Holler is the story of "the trouble twins", 13-year-old Dallas and Florida, who have spent their lives living in the dilapidated Boxton Creek Home. They've had many failed foster parent experiences, some terrifying, some grim, and they are very wary of adults. They remind me a bit of Tony and Tia Malone in Escape to Witch Mountain (another pair of twins who seem unable to keep out of trouble, and who no one seems to want).

An elderly couple asks the twins to come and live with them in their country home in Ruby Holler (named for the red maple trees in the fall), to help with a project. The twins by this point have serious trust issues, and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. But Tiller and Sairy Morey are different from anyone that the twins have encountered before. Together, the four embark on a series of adventures in the lush, rural Ruby Holler.

This book reminded me a little bit of Louis Sachar's Holes, with the bleakness of the Boxton Creek Home, and the quirkiness of the Moreys (although the main setting is the exact opposite of the setting in Holes). Throughout the book, we learn about the various other homes that the twins have lived in, gradually coming to understand their prickliness and acting out. In parallel, we watch Dallas and Florida, and Sairy and Tiller, gradually changing one another. It's a story about love and patience and second chances, and suspense and adventure, too.

There are many small things to like about the book. I love the way that Sairy and Tiller are with each other, two halves of a whole, with their own unusual endearments. I smiled at the way that Dallas has of painting a positive future with words, even when things seem bleak. And I laughed out loud at some of the wonderful foods cooked up by the Tillers: mission-accomplished-cake, be-nice-to-orphans brownies, and welcome-home-bacon. Even the names of the dreadful owners of the Boxton Creek Home, the Trepids (as in, the reverse of intrepid?) are clever and apt.

This is a book that you'll enjoy while you're reading it, and feel good about afterward. It's suitable for fairly young kids, with lots of dialog, and short chapters. The bleak incidents in Dallas and Florida's past have an exaggerated quality, like a Roald Dahl story, rendering them less disturbing than they might be otherwise. This book won a much-deserved 2002 Carnegie Medal.

This book review was originally published on my blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page, on June 17th, 2006.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
My amazoo pen-pal Judy was right. This is a book about Love and Decency getting the best of Ugliness and Greed, and although it amounts to a moral lesson, it's a heap of fun to read, even for a skeptical grown-up who no longer has a 'young reader' in his household but who remembers happy hours dawdling with his son, reading Roald Dahl and Gary Paulsen by trading chapters. That's the shelf this book belongs on, alongside Dahl and Paulsen. Come to think of it, the old guy Tiller who lives in Ruby Holler is probably a spitting image of me. Tiller and his wife Sairy have raised a family, sent their kids out into the wide world, and now are just a tad restless in their 'empty nest' in Ruby Holler, a spot so charmingly rustic it might be the original Garden of Eden. Tiller and Sairy have the hare-brained urge to go on separate adventures, just for once, so they temporarily requisition the Twins, Florida and Dallas, for companionship. The Twins have lived all their thirteen years in the saddest, meanest orphanage this side of the Brothers Grimm, under the cold-hearted care of the Trefids, who hate their work. They've bounced out and back from foster homes so often that they've become cynical about all adults and convinced of their own worthlessness. They're labeled the Trouble Twins, but in fact 'trouble' is less apt for them than 'intrepid,' as the story will show.

The writing is deft and simple, yet not so simple that it's cloying. I'm reminded in a backwards way of the Lemony Snicket "Unfortunate Events" books, also about intrepid sibling orphans assaulted by rapacious adults. Whereas the Snicket books are coyly pretentious -- yes, funny but disingenuously snarky to the point of nastiness -- Sharon Creech gives us a pair of kids who are edgy smart-alecks when they need to be but capable of responding to decency with warmth. I think I'll set this book aside for my son to read to his kids some day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
There are not words strong enough to express what a wonderful and joyous book this is! "Ruby Holler" is the most rewarding book I've read in ages. In fact, it could be described as a manual for excellent parenting and excellent living. What a great reading experience!

I have fairly recently discovered Sharon Creech and her delightful books, including Love That Dog and Hate That Cat [HATE THAT CAT -LIB] [Library Binding]. She was awarded the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons (the Newbery is awarded to the best of older children's literature every year).

"Ruby Holler" itself won the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature. Frankly, I would like to stand outside big chain stores, outlet malls, and the like with boxes and boxes of this book to hand out. If I could put this book into the hands and hearts of every adult with children, maybe we could eliminate emotional and psychological child abuse. It has long been my personal thesis that the ills of a country lie in child abuse and the anger that develops from it. But that's another story for another place.

"Ruby Holler" is the story of fraternal twins, Dallas and Florida, who live in this horrible orphanage and are taken out from time to time into foster homes by horrible adults who abuse them then return them. Part of the journey of the book is the revelation of the kinds of abuse they experience, from being thrown into a totally black cellar with spiders and rats to the devilish treatment by a couple's larva-from-hell, picture-perfect little girl. The twins' revenge is rewarded with a trip back to the orphanage. Creech wisely keeps the abuse to emotional and a little physical (the stay in the cellar), making her point quite clear without edging into other kinds of noxious abuse.

So why the names Dallas and Florida? The twins were left on the doorstep of this emotionally sterile orphanage run by a couple themselves emotionally sterile. The box in which the twins were found was lined with travel brochures, one with Dallas, one with Florida. Their birthdays and last names were manufactured. What is real about the twins is their absolute connection with each other.

At thirteen they are requested by an eccentric, older couple to accompany them on separate trips. Of course, these children wonder what is in store--and what is in store is wonder! Through the vicissitudes of daily life and all it entails, Dallas and Florida begin to experience what a loving home can be, how two people can bring wonder and joy and surprise and stability. Oh, how I love this book and the tears of trepidation, the tears of recognition of purity of heart, but ultimately, tears of pure joy that it brings!

There are surprise subplots as well. As for Ruby Holler itself, a quiet country backroad where the leaves turn into rubies in the fall--well, back in their younger years, Tiller uses it to woo his Sairy home from New York. His quiet manner and her understanding of his technique is another stirrer of heart emotion. Ruby Holler is also a quiet draw for the parched souls of two young teenagers in desperate need of emotional drink. They find it in Ruby Holler with this eccentric, endearing, and aging Baby Boomer couple who "find" and carve beautiful things out of wood.

Please take the journey of the joy found in this remarkable book. As librarian in a PK3-8 school, I've added copies to our collection and ordered all of Sharon Creech's other books. As the book cover states: "You are now entering Ruby Holler....Your lives are never going to be the same--." Oh so true!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2004
Ruby Holler is an awesome book! When you first pick this book up and look at the number of chapters, you get a disgusted look on your face. As you go along, you find the chapters aren't so bad after all.

One thing that I like is that the author, Sharon Creech, really describes the characters in detailed length here are more than enough details to paint a picture.

Sharon Creech comes up with a creative thing that a couple of the characters do. You wouldn't normally think of someone doing something like the characters do.

Another thing is that the characters are all related somehow. One, not really a main character, deals with most of the minor and major characters. In turn, the other minor characters are linked in some way to the main characters. It's fascinating in the way you have to piece together everything.

This book gives you a different angle on someone's life as an orphan. It gives you an inside look at how things really go for a pair of "trouble twins" and how an elderly couple can change them completely. At first, the twins are afraid that living with the couple will be just like living in every other house they have been to. When the twins discover the fact that Tiller and Sairy are different, they change their ways and come to like living with Tiller and Sairy.

In the book it describes a different upbringing of the "trouble twins" than what someone might be used to. When Tiller and Sairy cook for the twins with the twins, they are told that they don't have to cook just for the twins. There are a lot of things that the twins haven't done or seen that they experience while at Tiller and Sairy's house.

One other good part to this book is a secret or two that have been kept. I'll let you discover those for yourself. Enjoy the reading!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2006
Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech is the story of Dallas and Florida, two adventuresome 13-year-old orphans, who had been tossed through family after family. Just when they think that no family in the world will ever accept these two children tornadoes, they come across the opportunity of a lifetime to get out of their orphanage and away from the two people they hate most, Mr. and Mrs. Trepid. An elderly couple asks the twins if they'd like to join them on one last adventure. After accepting this offer and living in Ruby Holler, the twins discover its magic and never want to leave again, but when people with selfish intentions hear about money buried in the holler, secrets begin to unravel.

I would strongly recommend this book to all audiences who desire a book full of freakishly unpredictable events with troublesome kids involved in dangerous plots. Those are the best kind. The true message this book offers is that if you try and don't succeed, just try and try again. It also shows that even kids with a history of being reckless and misbehaving do have some good in the bottom of their hearts. It is very difficult to find books that you get your nose stuck in and you want to read again, but this is one of those.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2002
Sharon Creech is a prolific writer of poignant, quality kids' novels. "Ruby Holler" is not one of her more memorable efforts, however. The plot (told in short, readable chapters) involves some twins who are at a crummy orphanage until they are adopted for the summer by an elderly pair who live a rustic life in the woods. Eventually the two pairs warm each other's hearts, while the orphanage owner plots to steal the old folks' money. My problem with this novel was that it seemed so random at times, going inside the heads of and giving humanity and depth to its villains for no apparent reason, and leaving some important things (like what happens after we find out who the kids'parents are, itself an unlikely twist) unresolved. The inner workings of the characters seem ambivalent at times - is it best for the wife to go off and take a trip by herself or to stay home with her loving husband? I don't know. I don't much care, actually. Nonetheless, this is a pleasant read for those who will root for the kids to find a happy home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2004
Ruby Holler was a CILIP Carnegie Medal Winner in 2002. It is a realistic fiction novel about two twin orphans, Dallas and Florida Carter who live at the Boxton Creek Home. In the beginning of the novel, the story discusses about the foster homes that Dallas and Florida lived in, and about the twins living at Sairy and Tiller's cabin in Ruby Holler. This is an amazing story of the conditions in which Dallas and Florida live in such as living in cobwebbed cellars, snake-pits, having to dig wells, and the horrible abusive situations they endured in the Boxton Creek Home. Then a couple who are both sixty years old, Sairy and Tiller come to Boxton Creek Home looking for two young people to take along on separate journey's, one to Kangdoon bird hunting (Sairy and Dallas) and the other to Rutabago River (Tiller and Florida). However, they take a journey of finding out that there are actually wonderful foster parents in the world. Dallas and Florida save Tiller and themselves by rescuing Tiller from under a boat because of Dallas and Sairy showing up to take Tiller to the hospital along with Mr.Z. In the end, Dallas and Florida find happiness, meaning, worth, and love and stay with Sairy and Tiller in Ruby Holler. When they awake to the smell of bacon from where Sairy and Tiller are cooking from following Dallas and Florida from another un-successful runaway attempt to catch the midnight train. At first when I read this book I felt sad and angry at the beginning because Dallas and Florida were treated so badly at the Boxton Creek Home and by the Hopper's, the Drepp's, and the other hideous foster parents they had throughout the novel. But, when Sairy and Tiller got them I was so happy and excited. I loved this book, especially the happy ending! This story also explains orphanages, foster homes, and abuse that children might have to go through and how one good experience can help remove bad things and make them better at least physically. Sharon Creech is a wonderful author that writes about events that could happen in real life situations and how to overcome them. I would recommend Ruby Holler and any of Sharon Creech's books to anyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
The book review of Ruby holler
By Nalee Yang
Have you read any books about any orphans in it??? I have and this book that I have read is called Ruby holler. This fabulous book is about two kids Dallas and Florida. They live in a orphan home ever since they were babies. Until two old couple Tiller and Sairy came to take them to ruby holler.
The characters from this book is Dallas, Florida, Tiller, Sairy, and Mr. and Mrs.trepids. Florida is a really active girl. She does things before she could think about it. Dallas is a nice, quite, and he loves to day dream all time. Tiller is just like Florida and Sariy is like Dallas. Mr. and Mrs. Treipids are really grumpy and old and really mean to kids that don't follow house rules.
Florida and Dallas are trustworthy, honesty, and have courage to live in nasty homes. They are loyalty to each other and they will never leave without each other.
Ruby holler is a place of woods and the old orphan home is were they once lived. Ruby holler is some little woods with some hills and a nice place to live at.
Tiller and Sairy take them on a trip, but Tiller goes on a boat ride and Sairy goes on a trip to look for a bird. They separated the kids until they come back. It starts to get interesting at the end. Good luck!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2003
"You are now entering Ruby Holler, the one and only Ruby Holler! Your lives are never going to be the same-" Dallas and Florida, two of the four main characters in Ruby Holler, are "double trouble" at the Boxton Creek Home for children. They make trouble at the home. They get punished by weeding for hours, sweeping and scrubbing for hours, sitting in the cold, dark, dirty basement for hours, and get the cold mush(instead of warm mush) for all their meals. They have gone home with several different foster families, but they always return to the Boxton Creek Home soon after. Trouble follows them to the foster homes as well. All of the families were horrible to the twins who faced tortures such as snake pits, hog pens, and beatings. That made them think almost all grown-ups were "trouble grown-ups". Will that all change when they go to Ruby Holler?
I loved this book and I couldn't put it down. This fictional book is a great from cover-to-cover. I recommend this book to girls and boys, women and men of all ages who like a book with adventure and surprises. It has a great ending and it's a book you can read over and over again without getting bored.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2006
In the novel, Ruby Holler, By Sharon Creech, Florida and Dallas find themselves trapped. They're trapped within an orphanage and can't get adopted. The owners of the orphanage, Mr. and Mrs. Trepid, call them trouble twins. The twins get temporarily adopted by an old couple who live in a place called Ruby Holler. Florida and Dallas have a lot of fun in the Holler, and learn about Sairy and Tiller (the old couple). The old couple, being very trusting, tell the twins about their "understone" funds (loads of money buried under some stones. While grocery shopping the kids see Mr. Trepid and accidentally tell him about the "understone" funds. Mr. Trepid plans to steal it. Does he find the "understone" fund, what happens to the twins

The reason I like chose this book is because I enjoy reading books by Sharon Creech. At first I was skeptical of the book, but then it turned into an adventure and I was hooked. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking a good adventure. At the end there is a good twist.
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