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May B. Hardcover – January 10, 2012
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Heroes come in all sizes; my newest hero is a pint-sized girl named May B. Caroline Starr Rose tells May's story in simple, moving verse that captures the joy of family, the gloomy isolation of a dirt soddy, and the determination of one scared but indomitable young person. May B. is a girl you'll be proud to know.
- Karen Cushman, Newbery winner
- American Library Association Notable Book 2013
- American Booksellers Association 2012 Spring New Voices title
- Amazon's Best Books of the Month for Kids: January 2012 selection
- Junior Library Guild selection
- Kids' Indie Next List: Spring 2012
- Publisher's Weekly Spring 2012 Flying Start
- 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Winner, juvenile division
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2011:
"If May is a brave, stubborn fighter, the short, free-verse lines are one-two punches in this Laura Ingalls Wilder–inspired ode to the human spirit."
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2011:
"Writing with compassion and a wealth of evocative details, Rose offers a memorable heroine and a testament to the will to survive."
Top Customer Reviews
Set on the Kansas frontier, this novel tells the story of May, who's just twelve years old when her pa pulls her out of school and hires her out to a couple who've recently moved out to the endless Kansas prairies. "I won't go," is the book's poignant first line, but of course she has no real choice, in the way of all children in that era. She'll bring in some extra money for her family, and it will just be until Christmas, her ma promises her.
May hopes to be a schoolteacher one day, a surprising goal given that she has trouble learning at school. "What sort of teacher can't read out lessons?" she wonders. Yet she perseveres, bringing a book and her slate with her. When the couple she's sent to live with leave her alone in their sod house, at first she's sure they'll be returning. But when the days pass, she realizes she's been left to fend for herself, miles from any other settlers and with no help in sight. With the harsh Kansas winter coming, she must find food and fuel if she's to survive, summoning every bit of her courage and knowledge to make it through alive.
I particularly enjoyed the author's use of free verse in this short novel, which is accessible to even reluctant readers. The author's poetry is particularly evocative in describing the vastness of the Kansas prairies: "grass/always grass,/in different shades and textures/like the braids in a rag rug.Read more ›
May's parents tell her she is going to have to travel 15 miles to live with another homesteader and his new wife. They need help around the homestead, and he is willing to pay May's parents to have her stay with them and help for the next few months. May knows it isn't permanent, but she also isn't ready to move away from her parents for so long with no way to be in contact with them. 15 miles across rough land in a horse and buggy is nothing to take lightly. To make matters worse, May is going to have to stop going to school when she moves in with them. School is hard enough for May, but with such a long time away from it, she knows she is never going to move out of the little kid side of the schoolhouse. It is embarrassing enough to have to sit with the little kids at her age because she can't read. After months away, she knows it will be worse and she will suffer the wrath of her teacher even more than she does now.
At the homestead, it is clear the homesteader's wife doesn't want to be there. She doesn't intend to do any chores herself, but it seems like May's very presence bothers her. When she picks up and leaves, her new husband chases after her, leaving May behind in the homestead. May assumes they will be back, but days and days pass and no one returns.Read more ›
May B. is a fierce and resourceful young woman. I really enjoyed watching her develop as a character. She refuses to be ruled by her learning disability--continuing to dream of someday being a teacher despite her struggles with reading. Her determination to learn to read was also just one example of how strong she was. When she's left alone by the Oblingers, she proves incredibly resourceful when it comes to survival, despite her initial elation at not having to answer to anyone else's demands. When she finally leave the cottage in an attempt to get home, the reader senses that she truly feels that she has no choice.
As someone who has always been a bit leery of novels in verse, I have to say that Ms. Rose was immensely successful in telling her story with this method. The novel lends itself to quick reading and an easy-to-imagine story. What really caught my attention is that this would be a fantastic novel to give a young person who struggles with reading. The words create vivid imagery and tell a compelling story without an overabundance of words.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had never read a YA novel that was completely writen in poetry before, but I *loved* reading this one. Read morePublished 11 months ago by S. Mast
This book is well crafted. The writing is crisp and original, and the main character is a model of strength and independence. A great book for young girls. And boys.Published 11 months ago by Burleigh Muten
Mavis Betterly (May) is a 12-year old girl living in 1870's Kansas. In order to contribute financially she is sent out to work at the home of a new settler and his wife. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Julie
Great novel to read along with our children or share in a classroomPublished 12 months ago by Sheila Good
I LOVE this book! The beginning kind of confused me but then I completely understood.Published 13 months ago by Georgia Calley
Without giving too much away, I love May. She had a hard life, made almost impossible by circumstances way beyond her control. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Lisa Emma Kilgariff
I loved this book and so does my granddaughter. It's beautiful!!Published 16 months ago by Masuhami