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Gentle's Holler (Maggie Valley Novels) Paperback – March 15, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Gentle's Holler Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8–A family story set in the North Carolina hills during the 1960s. With a father who chases a seemingly impossible dream and a homemaker mother who tries to compensate by multitasking, 12-year-old Livy Two wonders if she will ever get to see the world she's been introduced to via her schoolbooks and the bookmobile. She is distressed to learn that her 14-year-old brother plans to run away to find a job; her three-year-old sister, Gentle, is blind; another baby is on the way; and her cranky (although ultimately wise) grandmother is turning a visit into a long stay. Daily worry and struggle wear Livy down until she begins to express anger and frustration over the brother who has left (but does send money back home) and the librarian who at first cannot produce materials for Gentle. When an accident places her father in a coma, Livy begins to reconsider her feelings. Madden's characters are endearing, even when they are stubborn. The differing opinions that Livy's parents express display both normal friction and love. Grandma becomes the family's center of strength, and Uncle Hazard, the family dog, provides humor. Women in professional roles and references to the Civil Rights movement tie the story to national events. Livy's narration rings true and is wonderfully voiced, and Madden's message about the importance of forgiveness will be well received.–Cindy Darling Codell, formerly at Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Livy Two, named for her deceased sister Olivia, is one of nine siblings living in the North Carolina mountains during the 1960s. With her head-in-the-clouds, banjo-playing father and an overworked, perpetually pregnant mother, Livy Two assumes many of the child-care and household responsibilities. Still, she has time to dream of future travels, a home of her own, and her own country-music hits. Her worry over blind little sister Gentle dampens her dreams, but she finds creative solutions with the family's minimal resources. In spite of the poverty and hardships, this is a family story that's full of love and delight. The parents have a visible, strong, working marriage, something often ignored in children's books. Their love and acceptance keep the children secure, even in their hunger, and gradually smoothes extended family members' rough edges. Taken individually, these characters are very human, but together they form a strong unit that will help readers understand what it means to be a family. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Maggie Valley Novels
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142407518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142407516
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,150,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kerry Madden, author of Gentle's Holler, has written a beautiful, humorous and poignant story of a mountain family who knows both poverty and love intimately.

Livy Two Weems is 12-years old and has a desire that is burning a hole in her heart to see the world beyond the North Carolina hills. But she also knows how important family is in the scheme of life. And so what she wants and what she knows - is told in the songs she writes and plays on her guitar.

I am drawn to and fascinated by Livy Two Weems. Although a child, she is wise, ambitious, kind, loving, smart as a whip and talented. And she has a heart as big as the holler where she lives. It is through Livy's eyes that we see the Weems family and live their struggles.

Livy Two's mama is pregnant again, her harsh grandmother has come to visit after neglecting the family for five years, and her daddy is still hanging on to his dream of selling his banjo songs. There are nine children to feed (the tenth, Livy One, died the day she was born) and Livy Two knows that dreams of selling songs doesn't put food on the table.

When a doctor tells the family that one of the children, Gentle, will always be blind, Livy Two decides there has to be a plan to help her. But other tragedies visit the Weems home, and Livy Two may not be able to be the strong girl her family needs.

There are sad and tragic events that take place in this book but love and hope never take a vacation. The characters are rich, real, complex and the kind you want to meet and ask to stay awhile. I loved all of them and didn't want them to leave. Madden's characters know they are poor, but also know that poverty is a situation and not about who they are. They are wonderful proud people who are doing their best.
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Format: Hardcover
In GENTLE'S HOLLER, Kerry Madden introduced young readers to Olivia (better known as Livy Two) Weems, a twelve-year-old with a passion for books and music. Livy has eight siblings of various ages and tempermants, a sweet mama, and a starry-eyed daddy. Money's tight - Daddy's music fills the heart and ears more than it fills the pocketbook - but the Weems make do, and their household is always bursting with family, love, and music. Livy Two also sings and plays music, often writing songs about the struggles her family has faced and the hardships they've overcome. The story is set in 1960s North Carolina, a beautiful backdrop for this artistic and energetic family.

As the tale progresses, Livy Two watches carefully over Gentle, the next-to-youngest one in the family, who has always had difficulty with her eyes. Meanwhile, the eldest son, Emmett, looks beyond the holler and fixes his eyes on Ghost Town in the Sky, a new place on the top of a mountain where he might be able to get a job. Livy Two's trips to the lending library truck connect her with another kind soul, Miss Attickson, who encourages Livy's voracious appetite for novels and poetry.

GENTLE'S HOLLER is the first in The Maggie Valley Trilogy. The second book, LOUISIANA'S SONG, is just as precious as the first book. I can't wait to read JESSIE'S MOUNTAIN, the final book in the trilogy. This series will be loved by kids and families who enjoyed the All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sidney Taylor, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, and Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.
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Format: Hardcover
We are big fans of "Offsides" [Kerry Madden's first novel], and have been anticipating the author's next book. Gentle's Holler delivers! It has earned its place on our shelves with other all-time favorites...the Little House books, Christy, Cheaper By The Dozen, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and etc.

The book reminded me of my childhood, that brief unique late 50's-early 60's window of Americana that I'd forgotten how precious it was until Gentle's Holler reminded me all over again. Even if you have never lived/visited the tucked-away corners of Appalachia where the book takes place, you will easily be transported there. A great book for readers of all ages, and great for families to enjoy together. Publisher wisely has released the book in time for summer vacations!
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Format: Hardcover
The Weems family lives in 1960s Appalachia, and their experiences, as related by daughter Livy Two, are vastly different from our modern lives. However Livy Two Weems speaks with a voice as clear as birdsong. She is wise but not a know-it-all; poetic but not precious. Her story is compelling; through hard times her practical good humor serves her, and her readers, well. This is a book that cries to be read out loud -- to a class, a library circle, or at bedtime. Young readers are introduced to issues of poverty, class, artistic impulse, and family devotion in a thought-provoking, but truly gentle, story. I hope we get more books about the hard-working Weems family. Highest recommendation!
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Format: Hardcover
It's well worth getting to know Livy II, her parents and her eight (!) living siblings. That Livy's story is shadowed by her ninth sibling, Olivia, or Livy I, and Gentle, her little hard of seeing sister, signals the quirkiness of Kerry Madden's writing.

This is a tale of the rural poor in North Carolina in the 1960's, but all kids can relate to the dreams and foolishness and tragedies of Livy II and her family.

Remarkably, the author has made each and every sibling, as well as the parents and relatives, a distinct character. Your kid is bound to relate to one of them.

This is an especially good story for modern urban kids to take a trip to the country.
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