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Walking with Miss Millie

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A poignant middle grade debut about the friendship between a white girl and an elderly black woman in the 1960s South

Alice is angry at having to move to Rainbow, Georgia—a too small, too hot, dried-up place she’s sure will never feel like home. Then she gets put in charge of walking her elderly neighbor’s dog. But Clarence won’t budge without Miss Millie, so Alice and Miss Millie walk him together. Strolling with Miss Millie quickly becomes the highlight of Alice’s day, as she learns about the town’s past and meets a mix of its catty and kind residents. As the two become confidantes, Alice is finally able to express her heartache over her father’s desertion; and when Miss Millie tells her family story, Alice begins to understand the shameful history of Segregation, and recognize the racism they need to fight against. Navigating the neighborhood with Miss Millie gives Alice new perspective, the wisdom to move on from her anger, and even enables her to laugh again.

Tamara Bundy’s beautifully written story reminds readers that there is nothing like friendship to lighten one’s load, and make anyplace a home.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published July 4, 2017

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Tamara Bundy

3 books50 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 278 reviews
Profile Image for Theresa.
232 reviews142 followers
June 7, 2017
I won this in a giveaway!

"Walking with Miss Millie" by Tamara Bundy is a sweet and moving middle grade novel. Even though I'm in my mid-30's, I enjoy reading this genre because the writing, plot, and characters are always tender, honest, and, heartfelt.

This novel takes place in the late 1960's in Rainbow, Georgia. A ten year-old girl, Alice moves to Rainbow with her mother and little brother (who is deaf). Alice's grandma is showing early signs of Alzheimer's Disease. Alice loves her grandma, but she's not happy about moving away from her school and friends. Alice is also dealing with abandonment issues. Her parents are separated. Alice has not seen in her father in many, many months, even prior to the move.

Alice stumbles upon her grandma's neighbor, Miss Millie, on the first day of moving to Rainbow. An African-American elderly woman, who has health problems and a spunky little dog, Clarence. Alice is "forced" into a friendship with Miss Millie. Miss Millie asks Alice if she could walk Clarence for her, but the problem is, Clarence refuses to walk unless his loyal owner tags along. Thus, begins a real and deeply meaningful friendship between Alice and Miss Millie, despite their age difference and background.

When I first started reading this book, I must admit, I didn't care for the tone. The first couple of chapters came off kind of mean-spirited, especially when it came to Eddie being hearing impaired. But thankfully, the story and tone quickly shift once Alice meets Miss Millie. I thought the writing was simple but beautiful. Not overdone or overwrought. This wasn't the best middle grade novel I've ever read, but overall, I enjoyed learning about Miss Millie's painful past, and Alice coming to terms with her deadbeat, selfish father over the course of one hot, sticky, muggy summer in the south. This book will be released July 4, 2017.
Profile Image for Scott Fillner.
266 reviews36 followers
January 29, 2017
"We might all come from different directions, but hopefully we all end up at the same place on day." Just one of the many lines in this beautiful middle grade story which offers opportunity to pause reflect, connect, and discuss.

The story of a young girl named Alice who is forced to move to a place she doesn't want to be, finds that through hardship, loss and disappointment can come beauty, comfort, and hope.

She meets and befriends a woman named Millie, who teaches Alice lessons of life, and helps her get to know herself and others from Rainbow.

The story has all the feels and moments of reflection one could want, to spark even bigger conversations.

For people who enjoy stories such as Because of Winn Dixie and The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, this will be a book you will not want to miss out come July 2017.
Profile Image for Patrick.
385 reviews
February 17, 2017
Received this arc from the publisher. Knew nothing about the book. Sometimes those are the best surprises. So enjoyed this story. Beautiful writing with a beautiful story line. Alice and Miss Millie's friendship will go down as one if the best I've ever read about!
Profile Image for Amanda Schreiber.
94 reviews41 followers
January 16, 2018
Wonderful historical fiction for middle grade readers! Such a great read! Kids will be transported back to 1968 & learn a little about history and a lot about life. Hopefully, some Miss Millie's wisdom will stay in their hearts; "But maybe the most important thing is for people to just be kind." Kids will definitely connect with Alice as she tries to navigate family & friendship woes after her move to Rainbow, Georgia.

Reminded me a lot of some of my favorite Kate DiCamillo stories. A little bit of Because of Winn Dixie & a little bit of Raymie Nightingale. Preorder this book as it will be released on July 4th! Excellent middle grade read for grades 4&up.
Profile Image for Cassie Thomas.
466 reviews17 followers
February 13, 2017
A beautiful story of a young girl named Alice being forced to move to her Mama's hometown to take care of her Grandma. Alice, reluctant to leave Ohio, convinced herself she didn't need to make any friends, yet somewhere along the way she not only made friends, but family. This is a great story of finding yourself, finding friendship, and the importance of family.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,463 reviews2,406 followers
March 10, 2023
Something feels off about the characters and the writing. I appreciate the representation and active communication among the young and old characters. However, it seems a bit forced. I cannot connect with the characters and feel more about the issues discussed. A very easy book to read though.
Profile Image for Laurie • The Baking Bookworm.
1,449 reviews376 followers
July 17, 2017
Walking With Miss Millie is a Middle School novel about Alice, a ten-year-old girl who finds herself in a new town with her mom and brother as they uproot their lives and move south to help Alice's ailing grandmother in 1968 small town Georgia. Alice is angry and didn't want to make the move. She misses her absentee father and eagerly awaits the day that he'll finally show up and take them home. Alice finds herself initially forced to take daily walks with her elderly neighbour (and her curmudgeonly dog) but what she didn't expect was the touching and much needed bond that resulted.

At the heart of this book is the poignant relationship between Miss Millie, a 92-year-old African American woman and Alice. They are a unique pair and their bond highlights the importance of friendship, multi-generational influences on our kids and the notion that people are far more alike than they are different.

Bundy gets into the mindset and vernacular of a ten-year-old girl as she raises several big issues -- abandonment by a parent, forgiveness, loss, friendship, bullying, the effects of Alzheimer's etc. I liked the inclusion of a Deaf secondary character (based on the author's own brother) and how Bundy shows how Deaf people were/are treated and misunderstood by the hearing world. While there are many issues raised, the focus is on racism. Readers will witness how some townspeople treat Millie and understand more about her as she shares stories from her earlier life. These are touching scenes that approach Civil Rights and racism at a Middle School level.

My only criticism is that there may have been too many issues within one wee book. The issues are handled well but the 227 pages weren't enough time to go into much depth in terms of issues or characters. There's a lot going on in this book but parents/teachers can look at it as a starting point for discussions on the various topics raised.

This is a book about the friendship between an unexpected pair who enter each other's lives at the right moment. Alice provides Millie with friendship and Millie is a calming force in Alice's turbulent life. She helps Alice navigate the adversity in her life, shows the importance of kindness and shares some wonderfully quotable tidbits of wisdom to her young neighbour.

"But maybe the most important thing is for people to just be kind."

Walking With Miss Millie is a touching coming of age story about a friendship that defies age and race and would be a good read for children Grades 4 and up.

Favourite Quotes:
"Poor Grandma. On her bad days, she couldn't remember things. But on her good days, she couldn't forget not remembering." ~ Alice

"I learned it's okay to get mad. It's okay to get sad, but after all that gettin' mad and sad, ya gotta get smart. Ya gotta take a step back, away from all your hurtin', and figure out what ya can change and what ya can't." ~ Miss Millie

Profile Image for Lynn Plourde.
Author 71 books142 followers
August 11, 2017
I adored this book. I want Alice and Miss Millie and Clarence for neighbors so I can go for walks with them. The characters are real, the voice is strong, the lessons are gentle. It's a quiet story and I mean that in the best way--one that sneaks into your heart and soul and makes you smile.
February 21, 2017
Alice's life is in a state of upheaval. She is uprooted from her home in Columbus, Ohio in order to move with her mother and brother to Rainbow, Georgia. Alice's father left the family six months prior to the move and Alice's grandmother in Rainbow is in need of caretaking. Hoping that this move is only temporary, ten-year-old Alice firmly refuses to let herself make friends or settle into her new life. That is until she met Miss Millie, her grandmother's elderly neighbor, and Miss Millie's dog, Clarence. Set against the backdrop of the late-sixties, Alice learns about Miss Millie, the terrible suffering brought about by the segregation experienced in the not-too-distant past, and how in spite of it all - Millie has overcome bitterness and lives a life guided by kindness and generosity of heart. Family issues of abandonment and abuse are touched upon and handled subtly. Walking with Miss Millie is a gentle, beautiful story of friendship, love, loyalty, and the power of letting go.
Profile Image for Audrey Laurey.
208 reviews20 followers
July 8, 2017
Ugh, though I think this book had good intentions their are too many issues (discrimination, racism, abandonment, disability, abuse, death, bullying, illness) and the descriptions of black culture and Miss Millie is stereotypical and offensive.

With every walk between the two being the catalyst to a painful memory, the multitude of issues being explored, and a lack of depth to the characters, the narrative comes off as didactic and forced. Additionally, the novel would benefit from the author familiarizing herself more with the race and culture of the characters being portrayed.

Young readers interested in historical fiction exploring race relations in America would be better served by reading Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.
Profile Image for Pam  Page.
1,197 reviews
July 17, 2017
Transported to Rainbow, Georgia with this story, I felt as if I lived there for the three days I read this book. Miss Millie shares her wisdom of many years with Alice (Alice-girl as she calls her), giving Alice the comfort and security she needs with her family's situation. There were laugh out loud moments, times I hurt for Alice, and tears of sadness that also brings hope. I loved Miss Millie with her patience, life experiences, and advice for Alice. I also loved Alice's mother who tried hard to do what was right for her family, sacrificing yet persevering. One of my favorite middle grade novels this year!
Profile Image for Christina Hanson.
115 reviews29 followers
July 3, 2017
"I knew that in spite of the unkind things that happened to Miss Millie on the path of life she was walking, she somehow stayed as kind as can be." This was a wonderful historical fiction novel about unlikely friendships, the power of listening, and the effect of loss. I'm glad I added it to my Mock Newbery for the fall. Check it out when it's released tomorrow!
Profile Image for Darla.
3,519 reviews619 followers
April 17, 2019
This is one of those books that quietly sneaks into your heart. Alice has been transplanted to Rainbow, Georgia with her deaf brother and her mother. The year is 1968. They move in with her grandmother who is suffering from dementia. At first it seems like the only answer is to leave Rainbow and move back to Ohio. Meanwhile, circumstances lead Alice to taking daily walks with elderly neighbor Millie and dog, Clarence. Millie becomes Alice's first friend in Rainbow and helps her to see the town in new ways and ultimately to other friends her age. Ultimately, it is Millie's wisdom and beautiful spirit that help Alice move forward in her life. This character-driven novel will transport readers to the South in the 1960's and remind them of the value of friendship and kindness.
Profile Image for Fats.
277 reviews14 followers
February 10, 2018
"Alice-girl... The whole world is fulla mean people. But it's also fulla nice people, too. That's the important thing."

In this debut novel by Ohio author Tamara Bundy, eleven-year-old Alice goes to Georgia with her mom and younger brother Eddie to visit her Grandma. Her Grandma's house was located in the small town of Rainbow. For Alice, however, there was nothing colorful about the town. She missed her beloved city of Columbus and hoped that her Daddy would come soon to get them. Along the way, Alice met Miss Millie, her Grandma's neighbor who lived next door. When Alice started walking Miss Millie's dog, Clarence, she slowly learned about Miss Millie's family story and the impact of segregation on the town of Rainbow. As their walks became the highlight of Alice's days, Alice realized that there was more to people than meets the eye.

Walking with Miss Millie beautifully captures the pain and heartache of a young girl moving to a new place, trying to hold on to the memories of a father she believed would come back for her, finding friendship where she least expected it, and finding the true meaning of home.

"You said there's no rainbows in Rainbow. But I disagree. You're a rainbow in a sometimes dark world."
Profile Image for Clare Lund.
606 reviews7 followers
July 30, 2018
This book was such a joy to read… no other way to describe it. Sometimes friendships come from the most unexpected places, and life lessons are learned from those who seem to have nothing in common with us on the surface. HIGHLY recommend for ages 9 and up.
Profile Image for sophie ☁️.
195 reviews88 followers
February 24, 2018
Totally wasn’t expecting it to be good, but ended up not being able to put it down!
Profile Image for Ellen.
104 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2018
Such a lovely book of friendship between a young, white girl and an old, black lady. Miss Millie shares wise words to live by and think about.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,700 reviews42 followers
August 20, 2018
If like me, you immediately thought of Driving Mrs. Daisy upon seeing the title, you would not be too far off. Except in this case the story is about a white girl taking walks with her elderly African-American neighbor.
During the summer of 1968 ten-year-old Alice Ann moves with her mother and younger brother to Rainbow, Georgia to live with her grandmother who is beginning to show signs of dementia. Roped into taking nearly daily constitutionals with ninety-two-year-old Miss Millie (and dog, Clarence) Alice comes to appreciate the woman's company. More importantly, Miss Millie opens Alice's eyes to the deep impact of racism. Miss Millie also serves as a sounding board as the young girl grapples with her father's abandonment and adjusting to life in a new town.
Although the novel plays into many tropes I do think it could be used as a springboard for discussions about segregation and "subtle" racism. For many students such a book may be their first exposure to the topic beyond a few paragraphs in a school textbook.
Profile Image for Tamara York.
1,092 reviews16 followers
June 17, 2019
Lovely all the way through and I boo-hooed at the end. Set in 1968 Georgia, this is the story of a friendship between a 92 year old woman and the 10 year old protagonist. Racism and Jim Crow is touched on. The real heart of the story is friendship and navigating the tough stuff through the eyes of a little girl. Beautifully done. I would say that it’s best for ages 10 and up due to the Where the Red Fern Grows-level of emotional ending.
Profile Image for Jill.
798 reviews
April 15, 2023
3.5 stars
I really appreciate when middle grade books can talk about a lot of heavy topics in an age appropriate way. This one covers racism, separated parents, natural disaster, bullying and more. I loved the generation relationship & appreciation for your elders.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
2,115 reviews27 followers
May 20, 2017
Writing a book that lets middle grade readers see what the South was like in the 1960s is always a tricky balance. How much do you include? What do you need to explain and what can just be shown through the story itself? Tamara Bundy strikes that balance in her story of Alice and Miss Millie. When Alice eavesdrops on a conversation of her grandmother's neighbor, her mom makes her go apologize and offer to do something to make up for the rudeness. That is the start of walking with Miss Millie as she takes her dog Clarence on as stroll around the neighborhood. At first Alice resents the chore, just as she resents moving from Columbus to stay with her grandmother and resents her father's absence. But as the story continues, we see the change in Alice's attitude and her feelings about many of the things in her life that make her sad or angry.

Listening to Miss Millie tell about her life as a black woman in the South before the days of Civil Rights gives the historical situation a personal touch. And all the tragedies in her life have made her sensitive to the heartache she can see in Alice. As unlikely a pair as they are, the preteen and the 92-year-old find they have plenty in common besides their daily walks with Clarence. And the story also deals with family issues like a grandparent suffering from memory problems and a mother raising her children while the father is off "finding himself." Just as in real life, there is a lot going on with Alice. Some advice Miss Millie gave her is good for everyone to follow. "...it's okay to get mad. It's okay to get sad, but after all that gettin' mad and sad, ya gotta get smart. Ya gotta take a step back, away from all your hurtin', and figure out what ya can change and what ya can't." Those are words to guide anyone in life.

Highly recommended for middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction, historical fiction (of the not too distant past), and stories about family and friends (of all ages).

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jenny Leitsch.
326 reviews8 followers
December 15, 2017
I loved Alice's coming-of-age story and found many scenes compelling, but I couldn't help but feel that the racial elements of the story were underdeveloped and a bit cliche. In fact, I wondered multiple times if the racial discrimination elements of the plot were even necessary. There was a lot going on in this story: Alice's move and parents' broken relationship; Alice walking with Miss Millie; Alice's brother's deafness; Alice dealing with town bullies and making new friends; Alice collecting symbolic "gifts" from Miss Mille; Alice finding symbolic places and tokens based on her dad's poetry --- whew! It was a lot to juggle - especially for young readers - and not sure the points about discrimination were easy to digest among the smorgasbord of plot elements.

But that's just me. My eight-year-old daughter read the book and loved it. After finishing the novel, she sat with me on the couch and cried about Miss Millie's death. It was the first time she'd really had an emotional reaction to a book she'd read independently. We talked about how good a friend Miss Mille had been to Alice and how cool it was that the book ended with a hopeful rainbow and hope for Alice to like her new life in Rainbow.
Profile Image for Kim McGee.
3,042 reviews68 followers
May 30, 2017
Alice is angry. She doesn't want to move back to her mom's home in Georgia and she really doesn't want to be there without her dad. When her mom suggests that she help the elderly black lady next door she really has had it. Soon Alice begins to enjoy her walks with Miss Millie and even her cranky old dog Clarence. It doesn't help that Clarence won't walk without Miss Millie and that makes their walks take some time. Miss Millie is a voice of calm and reason in the world of turmoil that Alice finds herself in. Alice's brother is deaf and needs extra help fitting into this new town, Alice herself finds herself harassed by bullies and has trouble understanding why her dad has abandoned them.
This coming of age novel is heightened by the fact that Miss Millie lives in a white neighborhood in the 60's south and stands tall against those who would like her to be gone. She radiates calm and wisdom and her gentle soul makes everything better for Alice once she lets her in. Even though this is historical fiction the lessons learned apply to today - bullies, racism and families in turmoil make for a universal story. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Melanie Coombes.
535 reviews11 followers
July 1, 2017
I loved this book. I loved the main character of Alice, a young girl who has just moved with her mom and brother to Georgia. There Alice meets her crusty, elderly neighbor, Miss Millie. They eventually begin walking Miss Millie's dog together. Alice finally begins to accept that that her dad may never come rescue her from this new town she does not want to be living in. But really this book is about the power of friendship and wisdom found in others. I loved it. I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 278 reviews

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