Kim's Reviews > Letters to Missy Violet

Letters to Missy Violet by Barbara Hathaway
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Aug 08, 2011

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bookshelves: children-s-literature, fiction, historical-fiction, reviewed-for-slj
Read from August 08 to 09, 2011

From January 2012 SLJ:
Gr 4-6—In this continuation of Missy Violet & Me (Houghton Harcourt, 2004), Hathaway again brings the African-American Windbush family and the rural South of 1929 to life through episodic chapters. Missy Violet, the midwife who enlisted 11-year-old Viney Windbush as her assistant in the healing arts, has been called to Florida to care for her sick brother. In her absence, Viney navigates the tricky waters of adolescence on her own, but finds it helpful along the way to confide in Missy Violet through letters. Whether Viney is expressing frustration about her cousin Charles, who is living with them temporarily, or fear about the run-in she and Charles had with the Ku Klux Klan, she finds guidance in Missy Violet's wisdom. Secondary characters are well developed through the correspondence: Viney's parents are at odds on whether to move the family North for more opportunity; her older sister has begun courting; her brother carries around so much anger toward whites that Mrs. Windbush fears he will be killed. In addition to the Windbush family members, readers learn about the various townspeople as Viney makes the rounds in Missy Violet's absence to ensure that Miss Roula is getting her boneset tonic and that little Maggie Dockery is exercising her underdeveloped hands. A few letters to Missy Violet from Charles and Mrs. Windbush provide a nice counterpoint to Viney's voice. This engaging piece of historical fiction is a solid choice for fans of the "Dear America" series (Scholastic), and the length of the book will appeal to reluctant readers.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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