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Belle Prater's Boy (1996)

by Ruth White

Series: Belle Prater (1)

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1,6012310,914 (3.83)24
When Woodrow's mother suddenly disappears, he moves to his grandparents' home in a small Virginia town where he befriends his cousin and together they find the strength to face the terrible losses and fears in their lives.

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
Newbery Honor Book
  vashonpatty | Jul 31, 2023 |
unacceptable - Christ
fair - Michael
good - Katrina
  hcs_admin | Aug 15, 2022 |
Engaging story of two cousins living in rural 1950s West Virginia, both facing loss within their families. I was pleased to see not only good character development, but also an avoidance of stereotypes. ( )
  fuzzi | Mar 15, 2022 |
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 1996 (Vol. 49, No. 8))
Gypsy Arbutus Leemaster-nicknamed Beauty-has fairy tale looks complete with long golden curls, while her cousin Woodrow is cross-eyed, gawky, and awkwardly clad in "hillbilly clothes" that were hand-me-downs to begin with. Beyond outer appearances, though, they have a lot in common. Woodrow's mother has disappeared without a trace, and Gypsy's father is dead. Beyond these facts, we discover the cousins' underlying pain just as they discover their deep friendship for each other during the year Woodrow comes to live with his grandparents, right next door to Gypsy. Woodrow knows that his mother deserted the family (she took some of his clothes and money), and Gypsy knows that her father shot himself (she found his body). Despite these dark themes, much of the novel is light in tone, its natural dialogue spiked with the jokes Gypsy loves to tell and the stories Woodrow spins. Both central and secondary characters are vividly realized in a plot that draws on family dynamics for its tension and energy. The 1950s Appalachian community itself acquires plenty of personality here; White knows her setting well enough to poke fun without sacrificing her affection for the small-town atmosphere. She's also supported her characteristically fine style with a sharpened sense of control developed through two previous books, Sweet Creek Holler (BCCB 10/88) and Weeping Willow (6/92). R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1996, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1996, Farrar, [208p], $16.00. Grades 5-8.
added by kthomp25 | editThe Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 1996, Betsy Hearne (May 2, 1996)
Joyce A. Litton (The ALAN Review, Fall 1996 (Vol. 24, No. 1))
Ruth White has a strong sense of place in her depiction of Appalachian Coal Station, Virginia, in 1954. Her main theme, the loss of a parent, is a somber one, but she leavens it with humor. Twelve-year-old Woodrow Prater tells fanciful stories about his mother's disappearance a year earlier to silence the curious and to comfort himself. His sixth-grade cousin, Gypsy Leemaster, must come to grips with the reality that she has repressed her father's suicide (when she was five years old) and her discovery of the body. To show her anger at her father, she chops off her waist-length hair which had been his pride. Once Gypsy accepts her loss, Woodrow is able to tell her the truth about his mother. This novel should help young adults who are grieving over a parent. 1996, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 196 pp., $16.00. Ages 12 up.
added by kthomp25 | editThe ALAN Review, Fall 1996, Joyce A. Litton (May 2, 1996)


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Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning in October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth.
Aunt Belle had left Woodrow on purpose just like my daddy left me. Not because they didn't love us. They did. But their pain was bigger than their love.
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When Woodrow's mother suddenly disappears, he moves to his grandparents' home in a small Virginia town where he befriends his cousin and together they find the strength to face the terrible losses and fears in their lives.

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