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May B.

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,109 Ratings  ·  738 Reviews
I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod hous
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Schwartz & Wade (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
18th out of 113 books — 1,218 voters
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenKeeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon MessengerThe Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Middle Grade Novels of 2012
9th out of 297 books — 672 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 29, 2011 Nafiza rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, net-galley
I love stories in verse therefore I wasn't much surprised when I ended up enjoying May B. a whole lot more than I had expected to. There's this cleanliness about the poetry that makes it easy to read. The thing with writing a story in verse is that you have to be very careful about the details you put and the ones you leave out. Because of the structure, you cannot, as you would in prose form novels, describe things to the minute detail. I felt that May B. very successfully portrayed Mavis and t ...more
Liza Nahas
Jan 28, 2015 Liza Nahas rated it it was amazing
My daughter & I were mesmerized by this book. It is really meant to be read aloud. And, my daughter learned about dyslexia in a most subtle way. We loved the brave patience of May! If you like "mighty girl" books, this is for you!
Sherrie Petersen
May B is an unlikely hero: a 12-year-old girl with a learning disability, fending for herself during a harsh prairie winter. In the wrong hands, the story could tend toward melodrama. Or it could just plain be boring. Fortunately, this story is neither.

May's story unfolds in verse. The style works well in this book, emphasizing the stark prairie and the simplicity of of May's every day existence. Author Caroline Starr Rose manages to weave in plenty of historical details, adding another rich lay
Dec 01, 2011 Sps rated it it was ok
Review for work:

Oh boy, a verse historical fiction novel, always the most popular item in any library! Kidding aside, it’s hard for me to see this book going out too much, unless it’s for the reluctant reader who has to write a report on a historical fiction book over 200 pages long. Because the verse leaves so much white space, the text density here is more like a Frog and Toad book, yet it comes to a cool 225 pages in the ARC.

This book had too many themes swirling in the mix: gender disparity
Feb 28, 2016 Elasia rated it really liked it
I thought this was a good book despite what people have told me about it. May B. really went through a struggle and she made it out. In my opinion May is a storng willed character. Half the things she did I don't think I could ever do. Growing up on the prairie definitely made her a lot more knowledgeable about survival than if she lived in the city. This is a good book if you are looking for a quick read and like a little bit of adventure.
Sep 14, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Historical fiction in verse is hard to carry off and ultimately I compare everything to Out of the Dust which is most unfair on my part. I think Rose's job was even more difficult because so much of her book deals with one character alone - but what a strong character May is. May's fight for survival alone on the prairie is fascinating enough, but the flashbacks into her learning difficulties when she was at school make the character even more relatable and intriguing. I think Rose definitely wi ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Abby rated it liked it
This was written weird, I guess like a poem, or prose? It was actually kinda interesting....I read this in like 2 hours. I mean it was just kind of a different sort of book.
Kim Bahr
Aug 16, 2015 Kim Bahr rated it really liked it
Quick verse fiction that gives insight into life on the Kansas frontier
Jul 14, 2012 Tami rated it did not like it
May B. is the story of twelve-year-old May Betterly. May lives with her parents and older brother, Hiram, in a sparsely populated area of Kansas in the late nineteenth century. (Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books will recognize the setting, as it is very similar to those described in those books of the prairies in Minnesota and Wisconsin.)

The book is written in free verse, which makes it a much faster read than any of Wilder's books. In Part One May has discovered she is to liv
Also posted on Dreamcatcher's Lair

Verse is the most beautiful form of writing EVER. Seriously. Prose can be made beautiful but anything that verse touches is instantly beautified. It's easy to go wrong with verse, but if you get it right, the result is nothing short of dazzling.

Caroline Starr Rose's May B. is one such beautiful novel. The verse is stylistic, yet simplistic and makes for a read that is oh-so-compelling, it begs to be completed quickly. And that's easy, because it is fast paced an
Aug 28, 2011 Renae rated it really liked it
I picked this up from because I love verse novels and historical fiction. I've done graduate work with nontraditional text structures in childrens' and YA literature, so I gravitated right to it.

May B. is charming and a fast read. Rose's inspiration in the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder is clear. I couldn't help but feel that this was Wilder's The Long Winter with a more contemporary focus.

May B. is a twelve-year-old girl (although I had a hard time seeing her that young in my mind)
Dec 03, 2011 nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Little House fans young and old, adventure lovers, history lovers
I'm always a bit skeptical of verse novels. You'd think that my appreciation for books by Sharon Creech would have me convinced by now, but I always pick them up with the same wary question in my mind: "Ooookay, is this actually any good or is this a gimmick?" I think a lot of us approach poetry with, if not fear, then a sense of drudgery. It is going to be too drippy? Will it be too dense? Lured by Christopher Silas Neal's beautiful cover illustration and type and interested to read a non-Laura ...more
May 02, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is an absolutely lovely novel written in verse. I had never read a novel in verse before, but this was done so well, reading it was pure pleasure. The story flowed effortlessly, the scenes described in detail such that I felt the cold of the blizzard.

May B. is a strong young girl to whom all young readers can relate. She is mad at her parents for sending her away to help another family, but she loves and misses them anyway. She has trouble reading, so she keeps work
Heather Anastasiu
Aug 10, 2011 Heather Anastasiu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apocalypsies
This book is so beautiful. It’s the kind of book I would have loved when I was a tween (is that the term now? I’m so old, lol)—it’s got an intensity and seriousness to it, but it’s still so accessible. I’ve never read a novel in verse before and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I wondered if it would slow down my reading. Instead though, I think it made it swifter, while at the same time, some of the line breaks would add punch to thoughts, descriptions, or emotions.

This story is intense, un-
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
This is the first novel in verse I've read.

May B is a girl who's parents left her to work for Mr.and Mrs. Oblinger for a few months. She is abandoned when Mrs. Oblinger runs away from her husband who goes right after her. She is left alone on the farm for five months and her food supplies eventually run out.

In the beginning she questions everything. She is very insecure about herself because she has a learning disability and people think she is stupid and not worth the trouble. When she has no
May B. is sent by her father to work for her neighbors house to get it situated for the newlyweds and would return for her by Christmas. When the wife runs away from the Kansas prairie for home and the husband follows, May is abandoned to fend for herself in the lonely woods and harsh winter. Can she survive until Christmas? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good read. If you like historical stories with Laura Ingalls Wilder influence, definitely check this book out for yoursel
Mar 01, 2012 Lynda rated it it was amazing
I won't give a synopsis because others have done that already. What I will say is that this is one amazing book. Seriously. The language is so sparse, yet the visuals are so great. The emotion palatable. The character fully developed. I very much enjoyed MAY B. Will recommend highly to others—including reluctant readers.
Feb 26, 2014 Elizabeth☮ rated it really liked it
May is a young girl growing up in rural Kansas when she is sent to a neighbor's homestead (some fifteen miles away from home) until December. The money will help her family stay afloat. May doesn't want to go, but doesn't have a choice. Upon arriving at the house, it is clear the woman of the house (only a few years older than May) is unhappy and longs to go home. When the wife leaves one day, her husband goes after her, leaving May to fend for herself.

May continues to remind herself that her P
Jan 19, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this quick historical novel-in-verse. It was reminiscent of the Little House books as well as Hattie Big Sky, though a quicker read. In the classroom, pitch it not only as historical fiction but also a great survival story.
Jul 25, 2016 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on a list of "top 10 speedy reads" for kids ( As a fan of the Little House on the Prairie series , I was curious to give Caroline Starr Rose's book a try. It dives into a darker place than the Little House books ever did, and stands as a fine example of Girl Power.

Written in free verse, May B. truly is a speedy read. One chapter is made up of only 17 words. The spare text style mirrors May's life on the prairie, where a typical day's t
Mar 03, 2016 Hailey rated it it was amazing
It was a really easy book to read because the book is written in verses. My friend Sophie suggested this book to read so I got it from the library on Monday, and I have enjoyed it. Then again, Sophie has a really good taste in books. It reminded me of the Little House in the Big Woods series because of the setting: a prairie in Kansas. It's a great story about a girl who thinks she is incapable of doing things, but is brave and quick witted enough to stay alive, alone for the most part, through ...more
Corrine Jackson
Full disclosure: Caroline Starr Rose is a fellow Class of 2k12er.
Here is the official blurb from the publisher:

This book in verses is kind of quiet and unassuming. Like a lot of my favorite books or songs, you have to be paying attention to every word. When you are, you’ll feel like you got punched in the gut because while Caroline Starr Rose is a minimalist writer, she is one who chooses each word with tremendous care.

Take for instance the second poem. May B. has just been told that s
Emmet O'Neal Library- Children's Department
It’s Kansas in the days of horse-drawn wagons and houses made of sod. Mavis Betterly, otherwise known as May B., must go live with the newlywed neighbors and help them keep house. The problem is that the neighbors are fifteen miles away, and May doesn’t want to go. She wants to stay home and continue to improve her reading, a subject she finds very difficult. May goes, only slightly comforted to know that her father will come back right before Christmas to bring her home.

But with months left to
Linda Lipko
Feb 03, 2013 Linda Lipko rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This book was mentioned as a potential Newbery award winner. I can see why it was in the running.

Written in free style verse, this tool works to convey the thoughts, feelings and emotions of young May B. who is abandoned on the South Dakota prairie.

Money is tight and May's family accepts funds from a homesteader who lives with his wife 15 miles from May's parents. In return for the money, she must leave her family and live with Mr Oblinger and his mail-order bridge and help with household chores
Deb Tyo
Oct 25, 2011 Deb Tyo rated it really liked it
Put this next book on your reading radar! Not being released until January 2012, May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is an engaging historical novel in verse that will leave you wanting to reread your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book!

Mavis Elizabeth Betterly...May Betts...May B is sent to help out on a neighbor's homestead. She begrudgingly leaves her ma and pa and brother Hiram to go to Mr. Oblinger's soddy to be a companion for his new wife who is a novice to the hardships of Frontier life. "It's
Peep (Pop! Pop!)
What an interesting story! I have to say that I am not a fan of reading in verse. I freely admit that I do not get it? Is there a special way I should be reading them? I was a little ways from the beginning when I decided to put it aside for another book. After I was done with the other book, I came back to this one and I am sooo glad I did! I even feel bad that I put it hold for even a little bit. I couldn't even remember why I had a problem with reading in verse in the first place. Really, it' ...more
Reread. I reread this novel in verse because a couple groups chose it as their book for our novel in verse unit (it was snatched up after I booktalked it!) The Sharp-Schu Book Club will also be talkinga bout it this week. This time around I appreciated the internal struggle May B. trying to figure out what she was going to do. I was also more aware of how awful Teacher was this time! This would be a good novel to pair up with Hattie Big Sky. ORIGINALLY READ FEB. 2012: This is Little House on the ...more
Rebecca Reid
Nov 16, 2011 Rebecca Reid rated it really liked it
In the middle grade historical novel in poetry May B. by Caroline Rose (to be published January 2012 by Swartz and Wade), young Mavis Betterley, called May, has been sent away from home for the first time, assigned to be a helper for one of her rural Kansas farm neighbors for six months. Despite her personal challenges to reading, May is heart-broken at leaving school, and she longs for Christmas to come soon so she can rejoin her family on their farm. Then the unthinkable happens: May is left a ...more
Dec 07, 2011 Gina rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of MAY B. (Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children’s Books – 1/10/12) by Caroline Starr Rose. Mavis Elizabeth Betterly (May B. for short) lives on the Kansas prairie where there are not enough trees to provide wood to build a house, so chunks of sod is cut from the ground and piled up like bricks to make walls. After her family hires her out to help a young couple until Christmas, May B. finds herself stranded alone in their remote soddy with nothing bu ...more
Liza Wiemer
I had to read May B because of the outstanding blog post by Gae Polisner: Friday Feedback: If I Can't Go In Reverse, I'll Settle for Verse and all I can say is THANK YOU! May B is an excellent MG, historical fiction, free verse novel that takes place during the pioneer days on the prairie. May's parents send her to help at a neighbor's homestead, and then something horrible happens. She's all alone, fighting for her survival as winter comes, bringing a nasty snowstorm. ...more
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Dent Book Challen...: May B. by Carolina Starr Rose 1 1 Apr 15, 2015 12:40PM  
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Caroline Starr Rose is the author of MAY B. (2012), OVER IN THE WETLANDS (2015), and BLUE BIRDS (2015).
More about Caroline Starr Rose...

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“So many things
I know about myself
I've learned from others.
Without someone else to listen,
to judge,
to tell me what to do,
and choose
who I am,
do I get to decide for myself?”
“Some days I sit in the rocker,
the quilt about me though it's hot outside.
I shun the sunlight,
groan to think of the water I must fetch,
the steps I'll have to take,
the work that's needed
just to exist.”
More quotes…