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VINE VOICEon April 7, 2010
Meet Teaspoon, an irascible, imaginative fifth grade child who can talk the spots off a lady bug. Teaspoon will tell you before you asked that her mother came in one day saying, "I gotta go, kid. I've got dreams to chase," leaving nothing behind but me, a sinkful of dirty dishes, a pair of elbow length gloves still in a box, and Teddy, her boyfriend of a year, bawling on the arms of his ratty work shirt."

Teddy is a decent man with a gentle love for Teaspoon and tries to raise her to high standards, but the jumping bean girl quells that endeavor. Her wild nature and imagination drive her to many predicaments dragging along, Charlie, the little neighbor boy dropped on his great grandma's porch step. When trouble comes a courting, Teaspoon grabs the shaking lad's hand and they go a dancing their way into a whirlwind of shady adventures.

Born with a huge, beautiful voice that knocks the socks off listeners by the time she is 5, Teaspoon's true dream is that her mother will return and take her on the road to success. She practices to be a "girlie girl" but has only the "Taxi Cab Ladies" to be her mentors. Teaspoon is enthralled by the lovely ladies, heavily made-up, doused in perfume, provocatively attired, who hang in front of the drugstore till the taxi picks them up to go for a ride....this happens several times a day.....hmmmmmmmm.

Ms. Kring writes her world weary characters with such warmth, such richness, such creativity, that instead of being bogged down in gloom the reader kicks their heals to Sandra's fiddle of humor. This author's prose is ever flowing, filled with similes and colloquial folksiness, smooth and precise. Entertaining and yet poignant. Quality with substance.

This is such an enjoyable read; treat yourself to laughs, to a plotline that is first rate, and a story that infuses you with hope.
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on June 28, 2010
Similar in style to Lesley Kagen's national bestselling book Whistling in the Dark, Sandra Kring's How High the Moon is set in Wisconsin during the 1950's and has you drying your cheeks on one page and laughing out loud the next. Readers can surely relate to Sandra Kring's amazing ability to translate the difficult situations in life through the eyes and heart of a child. Done so effortlessly, with such candor, humor and grace, you simply want to keep reading. I found How High the Moon to be a witty, endearing story I couldn't put down.

After being abandoned by her Hollywood chasing mother, 10-year-old singing sensation Isabella "Teaspoon" Marlene is left in the care of her mother's former boyfriend, Teddy, and dreams of the day she'll be a star. Poor in the pocketbook, Teddy's rich in spirit as he does his best to raise the highly rambunctious Teaspoon alone. Always singing and fantasizing about the year her mother will triumphantly return, Teaspoon is as spunky and tomboyish as any little girl can get, which usually lands her in a heap of trouble with a line-up of other delightful and captivating characters. When Teddy can no longer take her shenanigans, Teaspoon agrees to clean up her act. Joining the Sunshine Sisters mentorship program, she's paired with Mill Town's favorite teenage sweetheart and beauty queen, Brenda Bloom. Brenda's family just happens to own Teaspoon's favorite theater in the entire Midwest, which makes her weekly visits a little more tolerable. As the unlikely pair develops a heartwarming friendship, Teaspoon is filled with a new sense of contentment. But when Teaspoon and Brenda prepare for the greatest live performance the Starlight Theater has ever seen, and Teaspoon's dream of singing on stage is finally about to come true, her mother steps back into the spotlight. The lives of Teaspoon and those she loves are about to change forever. Although Teaspoon is small, she's a larger than life little girl with much to say and teach the world.

Sandra Kring's latest novel, How High the Moon, is written with such creative ease and intelligence that no matter how fraught with concern you may be for Teaspoon and some of the other loveable characters, you end up feeling inspired, believing that the moon is never so high that you can't leap right over it.
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on April 10, 2010
I absolutely LOVED this book! I fell in love with Teaspoon on page one, and was immediately hooked. Ms. Kring deftly weaves an adult tale through the eyes of the eleven year old Teaspoon whose mother has abandoned her and to pursue a career in Hollywood. Teaspoon has been left with her mothers boyfriend, Teddy, whose whole life now revolves around Teaspoon, who in turn decides to learn to become "respectable" because it's so important to Teddy. Teaspoon gets involved in a mentoring program (Sunshine Sisters, far more interesting than I am making it sound!) and there Teaspoon learns there are differing levels of respectability and we readers get lead down several different engaging sub plots. I laughed, I cried, I was angered and actually "Hooray"ed (out loud, my family thought I was nuts) through the whole thing. I highly recommend this wonderful book for anyone and all their friends. Definately one for the keeper shelf!
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VINE VOICEon May 3, 2010
It's 1955 in Milltown, Wisconsin, where ten year old Isabella "Teaspoon" Marlene lives. She is a sweet but outspoken little girl, who misses her mother and wonders when she will be coming home. Teaspoon's mother left her with her boyfriend Teddy, telling her that she had "dreams to chase", and she then took off for a career in Hollywood.

Teddy is man who care deeply for Teaspoon. She tells people, "Teddy is the boyfriend Ma left me with", but "Teddy is as good as Jesus". Poor Teddy has his work cut out for him. He learns that Teaspoon has let her school work slide, and that she might not get promoted to the sixth grade. She also starts getting into fights, so something has to change. She reluctantly joins a group called The Sunshine Sisters, a mentoring program, aimed at changing the direction in life of wayward children. Her role models to date have been the Taxi Stand ladies who stand on the corner by the drug store, wear too much makeup and perfume and dress in skimpy, flashy clothing. To make matters worst they have taken a liking to Teaspoon.

Her Sunshine Sister experience pairs Teaspoon up with Brenda Bloom, and an unlikely bond is formed. A summer performance at the Starlight Theater Group, where Teaspoon gets to sing, has made a positive impact on her. She even hires the Taxi Stand ladies to do the makeup of those performing. Now she dreams about a possible singing career in her future.

MY THOUGHTS - There is so much more I could say about this wonderful story, but I don't want to give away too much detail. However, if you love coming of age stories set in small town America, with characters you will grow to love and care about, then this book will appeal to you. Not only for baby boomers like me, but people of all ages will fall in love with the memorable Teaspoon, the precocious narrator, of this beautifully written, bittersweet story. There are also other sweet characters (not mentioned in this review) that will hold your interest as well. This is one novel that I was sad to see end.

I have read every novel that Sandra Kring has written, and she has become one of my favorite writers. If you have not tried this author ---you must. There are other wonderful coming of age stories by Kring as well. Most take place in the 1950's-60's, The Book of Bright Ideas; Carry Me Home; and Thank You for All Things. I highly recommend this author, and look forward to her next novel, which I am hoping will be a sequel to my favorite: The Book of Bright Ideas.
RATING - (5/5 stars)
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on December 21, 2014
The irrepressible Isabelle (Teaspoon) Marlene kept me awake all night. I immediately fell in love with her. A ten-year-old tomboy abandoned by her mother, Teaspoon lived with Teddy, her mother's boyfriend. Teaspoon could talk the spots off a leopard, lived a hardscrabble life, but never complained.

As part of a school project, Teaspoon acquired a Big Sunshine Sister, the most popular girl in high school. Neither girl was happy about the arrangement, but as time passed, the unlikely twosome forged a deep friendship.

As the Sunshine Sisters prepared for a gala event at the Starlight Theater, the prodigal mother returned, forcing Teaspoon into making a decision that no child should face.

I loved the characters in this book, which was narrated by Teaspoon. She valiantly tried to correct her bad grammar and loved learning big words. As soon as she learned a new one, she used it, often with humorous results. She also had self-taught vocal talent.

Teddy did the best he could to provide Teaspoon with a normal life. When he was first introduced as the boyfriend of Teaspoon's mother, I immediately thought of a child abuser, and I was glad to be so wrong. How many men would stick around to raise an absent girlfriend's child?

Bobby, a six-year-old boy who could play the piano as well as Teaspoon could sing, became her younger sidekick. Until Teaspoon became a Sunshine Sister, neither child had a friend.

Brenda, the older Sunshine Sister seemingly had it all - beauty, popularity, money and a fiance. As her friendship with Teacup developed, she began to examine her life only to realize that it was lacking.

I loved this book. The story took place in the fifties and admittedly nostalgia for that simpler time played a part in this review. Sandra Kring brought back many happy memories of my childhood.
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on October 26, 2015
What a story! It is not often I'm willing to part with five stars for a book, but this one did it for me. A beautiful story. A beginning and ending that tied together in a lovely way. Incredible character development. And a main character that is so flawed she is perfect.

Our author has chosen to use this character, a ten year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks who speaks her mind constantly, and we understand the world through HER eyes, and ours at the same time. She's a tomboy with a temper, and a kid with a sense of loyalty and justice, but mostly A KID, with all the strengths and weaknesses that entails. I couldn't have enjoyed the story more, and never expected it. What a pleasure.

You can read other reviews for spoilers. I'll just say, it's a quality story you might give a chance.
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on November 10, 2015
Little "Teaspoon" is quite the child! She holds nothing back (unless it might get her in trouble!), and has a wonderful Father-figure in Teddy, her Ma's boyfriend, who she left. Teddy takes extra special care of Teaspoon and you know how much he loves her by the lessons he teaches her and by the kind way he disciplines her. It was just a really sweet book that I can't seem to get out of my mind. I am hoping Sandra King writes another one like it...or maybe a Sequel? I am also wondering if this story is based on a true story by some famous singer? Teaspoon is the singer and she is dying to perform at the Starlight theater, the only theater in the town. The theater needs renovation, and the mother of Teaspoon's "Big Sister", buys it and the Drive-In, and starts to renovate them both. Brenda, Teaspoon's Big Sister, is really sweet to Teaspoon, and they get along really well. I suggest anyone in their 40's and up read this book for lots of fun and laughter. A great book!
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on May 5, 2014
I just finished the book, and I'm rather overwhelmed right now (my nose is a little runny from crying just a tiny bit towards the end). Let me just say this: Sandra Kring just may be my favorite author. If not, she's definitely in the top five. I've read three books by her, and I've rated every single one five stars.

You can tell just from the book synopsis that this book deals with some heavy material. Ten-year-old Teaspoon's mom abandoned her when she was five. The mother's then-boyfriend raises her as best as he can, but he's poor and has to work long hours to care for her, so she's left by herself a lot and doesn't have a female influence at home to teach her how to be a lady.

But she's surrounded by kind people: Teddy (the boyfriend), her neighbors, her teachers, her "big sister" Brenda, even a couple of street whores ... all people showering her with love and support, helping her out as best they can.

And you know what? That's what I love about Sandra Kring and her writing style. The characters in her books, they don't have magical powers or wealth or privilege. They just have hope and heart.

This book grounded me. It brought me back to what was important, and through story-telling, Kring reminded me of what's truly important in life. Yeah, you need enough money to have a roof over your head, but beyond that, wealth and status and physical beauty will only get you so far. It's love, support, kindness, and courage that really count.

The other thing I love about Kring is that she's so honest. There were times in this book that were so sad my heart ached for Teaspoon. There were also times that were inspirational, or funny, or appalling. But ultimately, the characters take their natural course. There are no out-of-character moments where someone suddenly starts behaving differently for the sake of the plot, to create any sort of artificially cheesy ending. It was honest, and the ending wasn't completely happy, but filled with enough hope to leave me satisfied.

I am so happy I discovered Sandra Kring.
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on September 17, 2012
This was the choice this month in my book club group and the first few chapters I wondered where this story line was aiming and who chose this to read? Once past those pages I found Teaspoon a real hoot mixed with sweetness and most of all HOPE. How High the Moon is what life is about for a child abandoned by their mother at an early age and her survivor skills learned on the road very young. Fortunately, her mother does meet up with a decent man,Teddy, who has the best interest of Teaspoon the entire time. Teaspoon definitely lives by the seat of her pants and tells it like she sees it...maybe that's why I change my mind about the story. It was like reading about myself.

Cute ending and I would say worth the time to be reminded how children view the world.
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on October 22, 2015
The story is told from the perspective of a fifth grade girl who is painfully aware that she doesn't fit in. She is poor, abandoned by her mother and always in trouble at school. She is assigned a Big Sister and Teaspoon agrees to participate in the program in a desperate attempt to avoid clunking fifth grade.
This is the best book I have read in a long time. The characters will pull at your heartstrings, the complex plot will keep you turning pages hungrily and Teaspoon herself will steal your heart. Bravo!
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