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Dear Hank Williams

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  839 ratings  ·  232 reviews
It's 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, and Tate P. Ellerbee's new teacher has just given her class an assignment--learning the art of letter-writing. Luckily, Tate has the perfect pen pal in mind: Hank Williams, a country music singer whose star has just begun to rise. Tate and her great-aunt and -uncle listen to him on the radio every Saturday night, and Tate just knows ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  839 ratings  ·  232 reviews

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Deb Tyo
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
March 17, 2015

Dear Tate P. Ellerbee,

I just now finished reading your story. I’m a sucker for stories like yours. I think if we would ever meet someday that we would become great friends.

You love your momma like I love mine. And even though our mommas are in different places, we miss them the same. You can’t wait to see your momma when she comes home, and I can’t wait to see mine when I go home.

Your love for dogs and other creatures match mine. It breaks my heart to see an animal without a hom
K.T. Brison
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book touched me more than any book has in a long, long time. Told entirely in letters from Tate P. Ellerbe to her 'pen pal' Hank Williams, Sr., the story is a brilliant look at life in 1948 Louisiana for a young girl who has suffered more tragedy than she should even know about at her age but whose capacity for hope is nearly as big as her vibrant personality. Tate P. never gives up--believing in her family, in herself, and in the fairness of the world. The peaks into her real life--as oppo ...more
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would give this book 4.5 stars. I was first interested in this book because of the title and ordered it for my library. I am familiar with the author from reading the Piper Reed stories with my daughter and enjoy her writing. She did not disappoint with this book. Love the pen pal concept in telling the story of Tate, a Louisiana girl who has had some heartache in life but remains upbeat and observant. Really love the main character and the family she has. Definitely a kid book adults will lov ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Dear Future Reader, I am so in love with this book written entirely in letters to a 1940's country western radio star. You will be too. Your #1 librarian, Miss Katie Jane
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Tate lives in Louisia with her Aunt Patty Cake and Uncle Jolly in Louisiana in 1948, and when her class has an assignment to write to a pen pal, Tate picks Hank Williams. In letters spread over a many months, she tells Hank about the goings on of her family and community. Others in her class write to relatives, or to students in Japan, although there are still bad feelings about the Japanese. Uncle Jolly frequently has his heart broken, Aunt Patty Cake sells door-to-door cosmetics, and Tate gets ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I swear to sweet Sally, this book ripped my heart to pieces. It was excellent. Tate's voice came through perfectly. This is the best juvenile book I've read this year. It was just wonderful! It was funny, heartwarming, and yes there will be tears, but such is life.

My favorite quote:
"A dog pours a pitcher of love into the lonesome spots of your life". So true.
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile
What seemed like a sappy, sweet southern story of a young girl and her pen pal, rising star Hank Williams, turned into a story of depth and fortitude in the face of sorrow. Simple on the surface but full of layers of complexity.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: upper-elementary
So sweet. The ending is sad, and will have you looking through the book to see what you didn't see before.
Find this review and more fantastical things at The Leaning Tower of Tomes.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through Shelf Awareness in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own. Thank you, Henry Holt and Company!

The review:

Dear Hank Williams is a lovely little romp set in 1948 Louisiana. Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher has her entire class write to a pen pal. For their assignment, some children pick family members they don’t see often,

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Tate’s class has been told that they are doing a pen pal project and they can either be assigned pen pals or pick them. Tate has just the right person to write to, Hank Williams, who is an emerging star in 1948. Tate tells him all about her life in Rippling Creek, Louisiana where she lives with her Uncle Jolly, Aunt Patty Cake and her little brother Frog. At first, Tate tells Hank Williams that her parents are well known and gone because of their work, her father as a photographer and her mother ...more
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I liked this little book. There is a lot of sorrow in it, yet the pluck of the heroine is always appealing and brings the reader to empathize with her situation. The book is told entirely through letters to Hank Williams, who, in 1948, as the book opens, is just at the cusp of his eventual fame. Tate, the young girl who is writing the letters as a year-long classroom assignment to correspond with a pen-pal, shares her life and her heart with Hank, who only responds with autographed fan photos. A ...more
Amy Rae
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
There's nothing overly wrong with Dear Hank Williams. It's just not especially interesting.

This is the epitome of spunky-girl historical fiction, which is pretty much my favourite kind of fiction, but the book doesn't bring anything new to the genre. You've got a girl with a spunky name (Tate P. Ellerbee) and a big imagination telling her story with the slightest of twists--the story is meted out in a series of letters. The missives she writes to Hank Williams in 1948 and 49 are full of cutesy b
The Styling Librarian
Sitting down to read this book I was prepared to read a beautiful historical fiction book but I didn’t expect such a powerful novel packed with twists and turns by form of letters from the beautiful character Tate P. Ellerbee. I really loved getting to know Tate, one of my favorite characters I’ve read in a book in a long time. I loved how she reveals bits of information and truths about herself through this novel. I appreciated seeing how the aftermath of WWII still impacted communities, attitu ...more
Kathy Martin
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with Tate P. Ellerbee as I was reading the letters she wrote to Hank Williams. Her teacher had given the class an assignment to choose a pen pal. The teacher had arranged for her class to write to Japanese children but, in 1948 Louisiana, many of the children didn't want to write to children in a country that we had fought a war with. Tate picks Hank Williams because she heard him sing on the radio.

Through Tate's letters, answered only with autographed photos, we learn what life i
Dena (Batch of Books)
A young girl that develops a one sided pen pal relationship with Hank Williams and uses that connection to deal with the turmoil going on in her life. Dear Hank Williams had an authentic feel and a great flow to it. It was a short, quick read that won't be too intimidating for kids to tackle. Tate, the main character and author of the letters, is funny and charming. She keeps up her eternal optimism that her pen pal will write her back one day.

This is a very slow paced book, even with it being s
Carol Royce Owen
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Saw this in the bookstore and decided to pick it up, but then afterwards had second thoughts, wondering if I could get students interested in this book, since most would have no idea who Hank Williams is. The story is a series of letters that Tate P. Ellerbee writes to singer, Hank Williams, when her teacher gives them an assignment of writing to a pen pal. Through her letters the reader comes to find out about Tate and why she lives with her Aunt Patty Cake and Uncle Jolly, and not with her mom ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tate P. Ellerbee is a young girl growing up in Louisiana during the late 1940's. For a class assignment, the teacher tells the students to pick a pen pal to write to. Tate choses the relatively unknown Hank Williams. Through her letters, Tate's difficult past is exposed. The exciting life she first presents to Mr. Williams and the readers is show to be not so rosy. The book is well written and flows well. Tate is a very funny, strong character. The truth of her life is pretty devastating, but th ...more
There were some really nice elements here, especially the voice. It was hard for me to fully get on board with the epistolary format for this novel and to buy into the idea that she would really write these letters to Hank Williams. There was also a twist at the end that seemed to take the story off course for me. I loved the main character, though, and there were some genuinely sweet and funny moments.
It's 1948 and Tate's teacher requires the entire class to choose a pen pal. Tate chooses the singer Hank Williams whom she admires, but has never met. Similar to Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw in form, Holt's homespun storytelling authentically captures the rhythm of life in Rippling Creek, Louisiana. As the one-sided letter writing continues, Tate reveals more about herself and faces some hard truths. An epistolary novel for middle grade readers.
Aliza Werner
A MG novel set in the late 1940s, featuring Tate P. Ellerbee and her family. Told entirely in a series of letters Tate writes to her "pen pal" Hank Williams, we discover the truths behind Tate's family and watch her find her own strengths to carry on. A few twists toward the end and a plot line involving a pet dog, stole my heart, however, this was a heavy character study without much action for most of the book.
Mississippi Library Commission
Are you a fan of unreliable narrators? Meet the sweetest, toughest, loving-est unreliable narrator we've ever run across: Tate P. Ellerbee. The cute premise has Tate writing her life story to Hank Williams via letters--they're pen pals, don'tcha know. The plotting is a bit slow (not bad, just slow), so this middle-grade novel may not be a good choice for struggling readers. This one will lend itself well to a discussion during/afterward.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wow! Much like the movie Sliding Doors, when you get to the end you want to go back and start again knowing now what you know. This is a very powerful book! When my husband saw me on the couch silently crying as I finished this book he said, "Really? This is relaxing to you?" I love books that make me feel and this one definitely fits the bill!
Kay Hommedieu
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a child who liked country music, especially Hank Williams, and US history after WW2.

The author's note at the end of the book is very helpful because Ms. Holt explains her experiences with her research on several plot and character elements of the book.
Joellen Mccarthy
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: heartprint-books
This took awhile for me to get into, but once it From the beginning the voice was amazing, but it wasn't until I grew to know and LOVE Tate that I couldn't read fast enough. A good MG, great MS read. Tons of amazing lines.
Jessica Booth
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This one caught my eye the last time I was at the library with my kids- this time, I sat down and read it all the way through. Hogged the comfy chair and laughed, cried, and now I WANT FRIENDS TO READ IT so I can talk with someone about this beautiful book without spoiling anything! AH! <3 ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Tate P. Ellerbe used her pen pal assignment to write toHank Williams . She told him about her family and life in Louisiana. She never gave up hope that Hank would write back because he sent a picture. Do read. You won't be sorry.
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A creative story that captures a talented and witty girl's attempt to connect with an idol, Dear Hank Williams is an incredible book that never gets old.
Great book!

Eleven-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee who lives in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, gets an assignment to write letters for her sixth-grade class. Tate knows straight away that she will write Hank Williams, a singer who she listens to on The Louisiana Hayride. She believes through her letters, they can be the best of friends.

Through heartfelt letters that express her true feelings through thick and thin, Tate learns that even those who are lost, are still forever in her heart. Tate learns to fa
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Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the Piper Reed series, including Piper Reed, Navy Brat, Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen, and Piper Reed, Rodeo Star. She has written many award-winning novels, including The Water Seeker and My Louisiana Sky, as well as the picture books Waiting for Gregory and Skinny Brown Dog. A former Navy brat herself, Holt was born in Pensacola, Florida, and lived all over th ...more

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