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Missing May

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  12,451 ratings  ·  725 reviews
This critically acclaimed winner of the Newbery Medal joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

Ever since May, Summer's aunt and good-as-a-mother for the past six years, died in the garden among her pole beans and carrots, life for Summer and her Uncle Ob has been as bleak as winter. Ob doesn't want t
Paperback, 89 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published March 1st 1992)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  12,451 ratings  ·  725 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Missing May, Cynthia Rylant

Missing May is a children's book, the recipient of the 1993 Newbery Medal. It was written by Cynthia Rylant, who has written over 100 children's books such as The Islander.

The novel is set in present-day West Virginia. The protagonist is Summer, an orphaned child who has been passed from one apathetic relative to another.

At age six, she meets her Aunt May and Uncle Ob. The kindly old couple notices that, although Summer is not mistreated, she is virtually ignored by
Read this, my friends. It's good medicine. Heartwarming, realistic, subtle, and funny in a subdued style. Winner of 1993 Newbery Medal. Set in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, present day, this is one of the better depictions of grieving, despair, and eventual renewal. It's also a story about adoption, and loving relationships between young people and old folks.

Summer's parents died when she was a baby, leaving her orphaned. After being passed from one reluctant relative to another, s
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It seems to Summer that everybody in her life leaves too soon. Her mother died when she was young, and after that she was passed around to live with relatives, to be “treated like a homework assignment somebody was always having to do,” and never staying with any relative for very long. And then Ob and May came along when Summer was six. Her aunt and uncle were elderly by the time Summer went to live with them in their Deep Water trailer, but she didn’t mind. For the first time since her mother’ ...more
Sierra The Book Addict
This book is very emotional, has so much power and discusses death and the emotional toll in which death can bring, how a simple couple from West Virginia delivered a small girl, who is a relative back from Ohio and made her at home, But May passes one and leaves Summer and Ob alone to find peace and notions on what they're going to do without her, how she was trying to find the love of her lovable May and find a way to help her grieving Ob find a way to come with May's death. A very moving and ...more
Luisa Knight
Apr 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I can understand wanting to write a children’s book about coping with death and the questions it raises. I just don’t get why you would mix so many religions together in your attempt to provide an explanation. Unless, … your intent was to keep the reader confused. Maybe that’s what the author was going for.

In any case, be prepared to follow a girl’s journey of loss with numerous explanations of heaven, angels, spirits, spiritualists and the like. Oh, and there’s a plan to meet with the Reverend
Vanessa S.
I thought this was good but not great. Rylant skillfully describes grief and it's effects on Summer and Uncle Ob, but there was not much complexity to the story. I felt like I did not learn much about Summer or her connection with Ob and May. The book is short, though, so I suppose there may have not been enough time to fully flesh out the characters. This was a sad read, and the ending felt unsubstantial, but I would still recommend this for those who have experienced loss of their own. ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Warm US american children's story about loss and grief and the relief of crying. ...more
Aj Sterkel
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
My mission to read all the Newbery winners continues with Missing May, the winner from 1993. This book is tiny—only 89 pages—but it has a lot of depth. The Newbery winners I’ve read so far have been hit or miss (mostly miss) with me. Sometimes, I have no idea what the award committee is thinking. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem with Missing May. This little book deserves its Newbery.

When Summer’s Aunt May dies suddenly, her Uncle Ob changes. He no longer wants to build whirligigs, or work in
"Missing May" is a short book that can be read in one sitting. Even though it is short there is nothing lacking in the story. All the characters are developed wonderfully and they all end up feeling like old friends.

It is a poignant novel about death and the depression that follows the loss of a loved one.

Summer loses her mother and goes to live with various kin, but never feels unconditionally loved by any of them, she is even afraid to ask for more milk. Then Ob and May come visiting and they
Jul 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery-books
I did not like this book. I read it as a fifth grader, and I have had no desire to read it since. I didn't like the characters and I didn't feel like they were very real. Sometimes I wonder what the Newbery committee is thinking. I've always thought that the books they choose to honor should be ones that kids can enjoy. ...more
Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
Narrated by Summer, we observe the grief of those around her while processing Summer's own pains. Her voice is appropriately young and is peppered with easy to understand analogies. As a reader, you can easily identify with Summer's experiences. She is both selfish and self-less at different moments.

Rylant's writing, however, makes it easy for the reader to identify how Summer and those around her are processing their emotions. Everyone deals with grief and pain differently. RThe writing explor
Kristin (Life Between the Pages)
It's not always obvious to me why certain books win the Newbery, but Missing May is a winner for so many reasons. This short book packs an emotional wallop touching on life, love, grief, and the quiet strength of moving forward. ...more
Linda Lipko
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Be sure to have a box of tissues by your side if/when you read this poignantly wonderful book of loss that wounds and love that transcends the sadness of death, enabling the spirit to keep living through the pain.

Cynthia Rylant, the author of this 1993 Newbery Medal award winning book, is rightfully deserving of the honor.

While small in the number of pages, it is large in depth and meaning. It packs a soft wallop as each and every word is used with such powerful poetry that I marveled as I turne
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Summer and Uncle Obe recently lost their beloved May. Summer is coping, not only with her own grief, but also with the fact that Uncle Obe is dying inside. The unique character, Cletus Underwood, enters their lives and the three go on a quest for a spiritual connection to May.

Of Missing May, Cynthia Rylant says, "I'm not sure where this story came from. But I was raised in rural West Virginia and I knew a lot of characters like Ob and Cletus and May. I just felt I was writing about my own people
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
What a sad little book. I experienced two big losses in my life within the last year and a half, and this book does resonate with my grieving process. I fell into a sort of depressed hibernation, and then one day I started to come out of it, too, for no obvious reason. I can't say whether that is standard or even common when it comes to death and loss, but Missing May feels authentic to me. ...more
Juli Anna
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember being moved by this small and quiet novel as a child, and it is still just as moving as an adult. This is a slight book--hardly more than a short story--but it is anything but insubstantial. Rylant masterfully describes the complexity of grief and the reality of different styles of grieving with characters so dear they are not easily forgotten. A lovely and tender story.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book about a young girl and a loss in her family, and how they deal with it.
It is written for 8-12 year old children, but I laughed and I cried, and I read it in one sitting! Absolutely loved it and the way it was written. Recommended to Everyone!!
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Poignant and sometimes funny story about a girl who is finding her way in the world after her beloved Aunt May dies, and her relationship with her uncle and her friend. Takes place in the mountains of West Virginia. Loved it. Highly recommended.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Short children's novel about coping with loss and moving on. Shallow at times and very focused on finding spiritual relief for physical pain. Not my favorite Newbery at all. ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, heart warming book. I am re-naming it to "missing Mary" cuz all I could do was think about my mom as I read the book. Now to pull myself back together! ...more
First sentence: When May died, Ob came back to the trailer, got out of his good suit and into his regular clothes, then went and sat in the Chevy for the rest of the night.

Premise/plot: Missing May won the Newbery Medal in 1993. This novel for young readers explores grief. Summer and Ob are the central characters; they are the ones most 'missing' May. All the happiness Summer has known has been in the home of her aunt and uncle. May and Ob took her in and adopted her; times were good, love aboun
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I surprisingly kind of loved this book.

When I started the audio I thought for sure this would be another Newberry dud, but then, I don't know, it just kind of hit me right in the feels. I think what really pushed me over was Summer and Ob visiting Cletus and his family. That whole scene was described with such tenderness and I just felt so much for summer. I loved how she described that Cletus felt safe being himself because he knew he always had his parents to fall back on. When Cletus's paren
Teresa Grabs
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rylant's story of love, loss, and the power that one non-judging soul has is heartwarming and puts a smile on your face. Summer's mother passed away when she was young, and she was passed from family member to family member until May and Ob took her from Ohio to West Virginia. For six years, the elderly couple and Summer created a wonderful family filled with wonder and magic. When Summer was 12, May died and left Summer and Ob in a deep state of depression. It wasn't until Cletus started coming ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ob and May took Summer in when she was six years old, shunted from one relative to another. They didn't have much, just a trailer in rural West Virginia, but they gave her the unconditional love and acceptance she had been craving all her life. Then, when Summer was 12, May died, leaving Summer and Ob feeling lost and adrift. If only there were some way to talk to May just one last time...

It's rare to find a book for older children than handles grief so well. This book is slight, and the plot is
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-winners
Well, this is a sad book. It's just all sad right from beginning to end.

I don't know how many kids would actually enjoy reading this, I think I might have as a kid, but, not necessarily. I really love the writing style and I got attached to the characters right away. It's one of those books good for any kind of crying you'd like to do.. lol

I'm glad it won the Newbery, otherwise I might not have come across it.

Note for parents: I didn't pick up on any problematic content, but the spiritual the
alisonwonderland (Alison)
This 1993 Newbery Medal winner tells a tender, beautiful story about grief and healing. I listened to the audio version narrated Frances McDormand with some lovely musical accompaniment.

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon October 2018:
Book One Completed
Sarah Svedin
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved listening to this book so much I got a paper copy to reread and write down some of the beautiful things Cynthia Rylant puts into words though these memorable and endearing characters. This is one of the most funny, beautiful, and hopeful books I've ever read about loss and grief that I have ever read. Move over Bridge to Terabithia. ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an elementary teacher, you'd be surprised how many times I'm asked if I believe in ghosts. (Hint: Almost as many as What's your real name?) The reply I give the kiddos lacks the complexity of my true belief.

There is a difference between ghosts and spirits, and I believe that those left behind in the aftermath of loss, swallowed in the depths of grief, gain for a brief time the capacity, a certain perception before inaccessible to them, that allows for the detection of said spirits of loved o
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. I can see why it was named a Newbery Medal winner. I loved all the characters and story line.
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is a very sad story of an child who’s aunt died and she had an uncle who tried to get in touch which her aunt, and they tried very hard.
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An author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children and young adults as well as an author and author/illustrator of picture books for children, Cynthia Rylant is recognized as a gifted writer who has contributed memorably to several genres of juvenile literature. A prolific author who often bases her works on her own background, especially on her childhood in the West Virginia mountains, she ...more

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“[May] understood people and she let them be whatever way they needed to be. She had faith in every single person she ever met, and this never failed her, for nobody ever disappointed May. Seems people knew she saw the very best of them, and they'd turn that side to her to give her a better look.” 18 likes
“But what is it that makes a person want to stay here on this earth anyway, and go on suffering the most awful pain just for the sake of getting to stay? I used to think it was because people fear death. But now I think it is because people can't bear saying goodbye.” 18 likes
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