Monday, June 23, 2008

Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden

Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (May 17, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0670061530
ISBN-13: 978-0670061532
Source of book: Bought it

Louisiana's Song , the second book in the Maggie Valley trilogy takes place a few months after Daddy's accident that occurred in Gentle's Holler (my review here). Daddy's back home, but the brain injury has left him with amnesia and short-term memory loss. He can't play his banjo and can't keep the names of all of the children straight. As the narrator, Livy Two, struggles with the fact that the father she knew and loved is "lost," her super shy sister Louisiana, or Louise, struggles with a growth-spurt that has left her very tall and the target of the school bully's jokes. But Louise has a special talent at art that the stern school teacher, Mr. Pickle, realizes and encourages her to develop. With Daddy unable to work and money tighter than ever, the family continues to struggle to make ends meet, and if things don't look better soon, they may have to move out of their beloved Maggie Valley and move into Grandma Horace's house in "Enka-Stinka."

In Louisiana's Song , Kerry Madden delves deeper into the characters, and I enjoyed learning more about some of the Weems' siblings. Through older sister Becksie's campaign to be "Maggie Queen," it is evident that she is desperately trying to be "normal" and to fit in with the other kids despite her family's extreme poverty. It's the same with Emmett who tries to impress his family with stories about how he's a gunslinger at "Ghost Town in the Sky," the attraction where he now works. While Louisiana is an exceptional artist, she is extremely shy and mostly wants to keep to herself. We also see the twins' Cyrus and Caroline's personality start to come out. We also see Livy Two start to grow up as she deals with all of the upheaval in her life.

While the family's situation is serious and there are sad moments, Kerry Madden does a great job of weaving in humor and demonstrating the love between the family members as she did in Gentle's Holler. For example, Daddy's brain injury is heartbreaking and not a laughing matter, but there are times when he says and does funny things. Once he wanders off to town in his bathroom and ends up at the pancake house. When Livy Two and her Mama find them, Daddy is happy to see them and offers Livy Two some pancakes:

"'Hungry?' He pushes his plate toward me, and I take a bite of his mountain blackberry pancakes swimming in maple syrup. Pure heaven on earth.

When I take a second bit, he says, 'Give it back now.'

'Okay, Daddy.' I push his plate of pancakes back toward him, and he keeps eating like a house on fire." (pp. 101-102).

When you read Louisiana's Song, you'll laugh and you'll cry. You'll want to listen to mountain music that will take you back to Maggie Valley. But overall, you'll care about the Weems family and truly hope that things will get better for them. This family will stick with me for a long time.

What Other Blogger's Are Saying:

Shelf Elf: "Louisiana’s Song is one beautiful book." (read more...)

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