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Truth with a Capital T Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–Eleven-year-old Maebelle is excited about spending the summer in rural Georgia with her grandparents, who are country music singers, until she discovers that her adopted African-American cousin, Isaac, who is a 10-year-old trumpet prodigy, has also been invited. Maebelle's grandparents have inherited a home from an eccentric aunt who locked one wing of the house to hide a family secret. Maebelle desperately wants to uncover the mystery but is strictly forbidden to enter the area. The story begins slowly as the cousins vie for their grandparents' attention and play with friends and neighbors. The last few chapters reveal the secret, which is connected to the original owners of the house, their slaves, and the Underground Railroad. The real story isn't so much the mystery but the two very different cousins learning to get along and appreciate one another. The children are fairly well developed, and the grandparents are believable. However, the author has tried to make the characters sound Southern in their speech, but has done it in a way that detracts from the story rather than enhancing it.–Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Hopefully, Maebelle can get the summer she needs in tiny Tweadle, Georgia, enjoying time with her doting, fun-loving grandparents while her parents go on a book tour. Maebelle feels she has no talents (she was cut from her school’s gifted program) and just wants to escape into her amazing fact book and try to impress the world with her erudition. When her newly adopted cousin, Isaac, shows up for the summer, her hopes are dashed. Isaac is a charming trumpet prodigy with a knack for attracting positive attention. Then the cousins discover their inherited antebellum mansion is full of family secrets in addition to containing a gold mine of evidence about the Underground Railroad. Hegedus nicely blends the historic background with the contemporary strand as Maebelle’s confidence slowly grows in this strong story about peer competition, race in a small town, and coming to terms with family history. Grades 5-8. --Anne O'Malley
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This story has a rich setting and equally rich back story. Sit in Georgia, Bethany includes the history of slave ownership, the underground railroad, the cost of freedom and so much more into her story. She takes actual facts and events and elegantly makes them apart of Maebelle's family history, and I love how she unravels it. Maebelle is a very bright young girl, but her curiosity gets the better of her when she discovers there's a locked wing in the family mansion her grandparents have recently inherited. She'll do whatever it takes to find out what's in there, and what she finds is a story about love, faith and a quest for freedom.
Mixed with fabulous facts and fun trivia Truth with a capital T is a really fun, engaging read. Not only are the characters well written, and relatable, but each chapter includes a "Little Known Fact" like this one,
"The Truth with a capital T can't always be proved. But for it to be real, it's only got to be believed." - pg 248
Bethany has done such a beautiful job at writing a story that centers around love, friendship, and the true meaning of family. The way she handles the topics of racism and prejudice is truthful and well written so that kids who are reading this story will understand it. It's a story about innocence, finding truth and loving blindly, as in being color blind and seeing people for they really are. It's also a story a historical story with a secret that ties together a family and town.
I highly recommend picking this book up. There are so many wonderful layers to this story that parents and teachers can discuss with their children and students. It's a heartwarming story. It's a fun read that follows the adventures of two kids who are spending the summer together with their grandparents and in the process learn something more about themselves and their family's history. I have to mention the cover, I love it! I'm so glad the artist included both Maebelle and her cousin Isaac. The cover is a perfect match for the story.
Before summer started Mabelle learned that she would be in regular classes next year, not gifted and talented. Mabelle plans on studying the book of little known facts over the summer, hoping to retake the G&T test and pass. Each chapter begins with a little known fact Mabelle has learned.
Mabelle's grandparents are a retired musical group. The house was recently inherited from Edith, a long lost aunt on the grandfather's side of the family. There was some kind of family falling out, no ones why. The grandparents own the large antebellum house with one condition, the west wing must stay locked. Mabelle really wants to know what behind the lock door.
I really enjoyed Truth with a Capital T. I liked Mabelle from the start. I think she could easily carry the story on her own but the author doesn't put it all on Mabelle's shoulders. Hegedus writes a great story, using all the characters she created.
Mabelle is a little jealous of Issac. She is no longer the only grandchild plus Issac has a talent (trumpet). I really liked that Issac being Black, isn't an issue but at the same time is not ignored. To prove she's still talented Mabelle is determined to win a blue ribbon at the Anniversary Spectacular. Mabelle finally decides clogging is her best chance at winning. She enters with a group. Issac, Grace, a girl she meet on the bus, Jimmy and Taylor, the brothers from next door.
The friendship between the five was one of my favorite parts of the story. Even more so after Mabelle got into the locked wing and discovers her families secret. There have always been rumors about there being a stop on the Underground Railround in Tweedle. Good or bad Mabelle wants to know what roll her ancestors played. The town librarian, Mr Phelps makes the five friends research assistants. They spend many hours (when not clogging) looking into what they found in the locked wing.
It was very nice to see a librarian play such an active part in the story and kids interested in history. The author does a very good job of explaining the importance of quilts and their symbols to slaves who were escaping to the North. Truth with a Capital T, is a wonderful contemporary novel that embraces history at the same time.
Maebelle's infectious voice had me hooked from the start (and, oddly, I found myself thinking in her voice for days afterward). The secondary characters, all richly drawn and quirky in their own ways, kept me deep in the story, believing in this place and caring about the outcomes for everyone. Who wouldn't love Gramps?
Hegedus avoids cliche and lets her characters speak truthfully about issues of race and the legacy of slavery in a community. Through it all, she stays true to the point of view of her smart and feisty eleven-year-old protagonist (think: Harriet the Spy in contemporary Georgia).
This story would provide an excellent contemporary hook into a unit of study in the Underground Railroad--and is simply a fun read inside or outside the classroom.