May B.
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May B.

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,360 ratings  ·  507 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...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Schwartz & Wade
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Nafiza
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
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...more
Karen
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
Bidisha
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...more
Renae
I picked this up from NetGalley.com 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)...more
nicole
Dec 03, 2011 nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Maria
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...more
Heather Anastasiu
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-...more
Zemira 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...more
Lynda
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.
Elizabeth
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...more
Kate
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.
Sps
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...more
Corrine Jackson
Full disclosure: Caroline Starr Rose is a fellow Class of 2k12er.
Here is the official blurb from the publisher:
MAY B.

****
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...more
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...more
Linda Lipko
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...more
Deb Tyo
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...more
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
Holly
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
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
Gina
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
Tami
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...more
Terri
"Mavis Elizabeth Betterly. May Betts. May B." Whatever you call her, this is a girl worth knowing. May, the only daughter of a Kansas prairie-homesteading family, struggles with reading. Not just struggles... she fights and wrestles with the words and letters that seem to move on the page and seldom look the same way twice. Despite her reading problem she is intelligent, loves to learn, and dreams of becoming a teacher one day. But a failed wheat crop means the family is hard-pressed financially...more
Naomi
Recommended grades 5-8. Author Caroline Starr Rose cites her inspiration for her historical novel in verse, May B (Random House 2012) to a childhood of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder. Reading about Laura's schooldays made her wonder about Laura's contemporaries with learning disorders. How were they taught? What cultural assumptions were made about them? To satisfy this thought experiment, Rose created May B, a twelve year old girl with dyslexia who dreams of becoming a teacher, if she could only...more
Wendy
This somewhat intriguing book is one that invites more discussion and thought than it might first appear. It's a verse novel, which hardly anyone likes, but I don't think this one will get quite as much of the now-cliche complaints that "there's no reason for this to be in verse" and "just a regular story chopped up funny". The verse novel effect results here in a story that takes place entirely in the narrator's head, which turns out to be pretty effective.

I found the first third pretty cliched...more
Rosalyn
I'd seen reviews of this book some time ago, so when I finally saw it on the shelf at the library, I snatched it up. And read it in about an hour. This particular novel is a novel in verse, which I wasn't initially sure about (sometimes novels in verse feel too cryptic for me). However, it didn't take long to get drawn into the story of May B., a twelve-year old girl who gets sent to live with a newlywed family to earn some extra money for her own family. The move sends her to the edge of the Ka...more
Joanne
Like Ellen Hopkins's or Lisa Schroeder's books in verse, each word in MAY B. is obviously carefully chosen and placed in such a way that not one is wasted and each means so much. Although this is a fast read, it's still a substantial one, full of tension and moving scenes, and I felt like my heart had been both pulled through the wringer and filled with joy in the afternoon it took me to read.

MAY B. is about a very determined girl whose heartbreaking story is one of survival, self-discovery and...more
Abby Johnson
May didn't want to go, but her family had no choice but to send her away to keep house for a new young couple on the prairie. They needed the money and it was one less mouth to feed. Why not, after all, when they know May has no chance of getting her teaching certificate since she can't learn to read no matter how hard she tries? But May is determined. She studies her reader every chance she gets. And when her employers the Oblingers disappear into the Kansas prairie one day, May does what she h...more
Lisa K
Aug 26, 2011 Lisa K added it
Shelves: reviewed
If I had to choose one word to summarise May B it would be brave. The character, her actions and even the chosen writing style: all brave and bold and perfect. I loved the lyrical rythm of the verse and how it contrasted so perfectly with May's own problems with reading. I loved how vividly the author managed to create the barren and harsh landscape with so few words. Barely anything was given to this description but I still got an excellent sense of life and it's hardships.

Without giving too mu...more
Chris Blocker
May B. is a fast read, but it is a little hard to get into at first. The novel-in-verse format is jarring for young readers used to the way a book is supposed to sound. That being said, it is a wonderful introduction to poetry and becomes easier to grasp as the story progresses.

The story itself is slow but has its moments. The dyslexia subplot was tedious, breaking from the story the reader really wanted to hear about and adding almost nothing to the story. The verse does a good job of creating...more
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I'm the author of MAY B. (2012), OVER IN THE WETLANDS (2015), and BLUE BIRDS (2015).
More about Caroline Starr Rose...
Blue Birds Over in the Wetlands

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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?”
4 likes
“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.”
3 likes
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