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Belle Prater's Boy

(Belle Prater #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  5,495 ratings  ·  457 reviews
An alternate cover edition can be found here.

When Belle Prater disappears, Belle’s boy, Woodrow, comes to live with his grandparents in Coal Station, Virginia. Woodrow’s cousin Gypsy is the town beauty, but she has hidden sorrows and secrets of her own. She wonders how Woodrow can accept his mother’s disappearance when she’s never gotten over her father’s death. That’s wh
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 12th 1998 by Yearling (first published March 26th 1996)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,495 ratings  ·  457 reviews

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Lars Guthrie
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I ripped right through this fantastic book. Belle Prater is the aunt of the narrator, a pretty sixth-grader named Gypsy Arbutus Leemaster. Belle's son Woodrow is her seemingly ungainly and cross-eyed cousin.

Apparently abandoned by his mother, who has mysteriously disappeared from "way far in the head of a long, isolated holler," Woodrow comes to live with the cousins' grandparents, residents of the tony part of Coal Station, Virginia. They live right next to Gypsy and her mother and step-father
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book for older children dealing with loss in their lives.

I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it.
Belle Prater’s Boy is set in 1953 Coal Station, Virginia. Belle’s son, Woodrow, is known for his infamous mother and then mostly for what she did. Early one morning, after a trip to the outhouse, she mysteriously disappeared from the little shack where she lived with her son and husband without leaving a trace. She never returned.

Some months later when nothing can be discovered about her whereabouts, Woodrow comes to town to stay with his maternal grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Ball. Next do
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
omg me and my friend were SCREAMING on the phone looking for this book because we read it in like 4th? And I couldn’t remember the title and I had a heart attack when I found it.
that’s the review.
Linda Lipko
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Insightful, poignant, touching and sensitively written, this 1997 Newbery honor book is one I highly recommend. With shades of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, the reader observes small-town life through the eyes of a young, precocious young girl.

In 1953 Belle Prater left her house, her near-do-well husband and young son and vanished from Coal Station, VA, never to be found.

In 1954 Gypsy Arbutus Leemaster's view of life is about to change when she befriends her cousin Woodrow after he moves a
C.G. Drews
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading it, (and, speaking as an author) I felt it was the sort of book I would write myself.

I enjoyed the easy, flowing prose, the deep, round characters, and the gentle, but hardly calm, story line. It's a typical story, with not so typical characters or outcome. The reader's left guessing details until the last minute -- and it's those details we so desperately want the answers to.

It's a smooth book, not knuckle whitening or thrilling, but written with depth and understanding. You'll
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Ruth White has again created a novel with unique and interesting characters who grab your attention and compel you to read to the end. This is a story of children's fantasy vs. adult truth, of physical beauty vs. inner beauty, of broken family, extended family, and stepfamily. Gypsy Leemaster and her cousin Woodrow Prater both have an unforgettable year in which they not only get to know each other, but also discover truths about themselves and the adults around them. The time period, 1954, was ...more
Michelle Isenhoff
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Belle Prater’s Boy is just the kind of book I love – beautifully written, moving, and full of thoughtful conclusions. It’s 1953 and Gypsy’s Aunt Belle has disappeared without a trace. Her cousin, Woodrow, comes to live in Granny and Grandpa Ball’s house right next door. He looks rough, with his hand-me-down mining clothes and his crossed eyes, but the town finds that outward appearances don’t make the boy. Gypsy, on the other hand, is as beautiful as her mother, but no one ever sees the individu ...more
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a cute, quick read. It has a good message for younger kids- I wish the ending hadn't been so rushed, but it was still worth it. ...more
Richard (Rick)
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
this was really a delightful book. The colloquial Appalachian language was delightful, and the message about how to deal with difficult loss and family tragedy was very poignant. I liked this a lot more than I expected.
This book was good at the beginning- it had the best first line I'd seen in a while. It had some good characters and an interesting premise. But there were a few things I didn't really like in it and it didn't go in the direction I thought it would. And, on further reflection, nothing really happened. It feels sort of like things are happening, but when you think about it, not much actually happened. The ending was just a little weird and I didn't know what was happening. (I had to read the exce ...more
Makayla M.
Belle Praters Boy by Ruth White is a very intriguing, modern realistic fiction book written about 12 year old Gypsy and her cousin, Woodrow Prater. Belle Praters boy. When Gypsy's aunt, Belle goes missing one morning, her son, Woodrow moves in with his grandparents that live right next to Gypsy, her mother and her stepfather, Porter. Gypsy and Woodrow create a everlasting bond that couldn't be broken, but Gypsy still could figure out why Woodrow took his mothers disappearance so steadily when sh ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely way to spend a “snow day”—reading a book that I should have reviewed a long time ago! I don’t remember how many years ago I first read this was probably in the early 2000’s, when I was reading my way through the Newbery Challenge at the elementary school where I worked. I’ve read it many times since, and am now more than ready to add it to my “Absolute Favorites” bookshelf.
Belle Prater’s boy is a gawky, cross-eyed preteen named Woodrow. He grew up in a shack in a holler
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: all ages 10+
I enjoyed this Newbery Honor book. Woodrow is a kind, wise, and inspiring character.
From the first page I opened to, quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.." I was reminded of a more recent story with a similar underlying theme on appearances, Wonder. The same quote can be found within that book.
I enjoyed the sense of time and place and the dialect in Belle Prater's Boy, set in the 1950's in an Appalachi
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. It is definitely not my favorite book, but it has great character development and a surprisingly fun hint of mystery. I think that this book was great
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked it. Beautifully written and so many good stories mingled with the sadness of the material.
Leslie Nehmer
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Fun, quick read. I forget how much I enjoy reading juvenile fiction books; entertaining and usually have a good lesson in them, too.
Oct 19, 2018 added it
This book is Great with plenty of life lessons, the journey from the start of the book to the end of the book was a roller coaster of emotions. Highly recommend this book to anyone!
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was great! It was really sad and moving, but everything worked out in the end. I am going to read the sequel now!
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written story of how children respond to loss, and of how adults try to protect them.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just loved it
Lori Cooper
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book. I love Ruth White's writing style, and I love it when I come up on a book that engages me as this one did. I read it in three hours and was sorry when it was over. I'm definitely going to read the sequel and her other books. ...more
"Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning in October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth."

This was wonderful. Two cousins brought together by tough circumstances: Woodrow's mother, Belle Prater, has disappeared from their home in a Virginia holler, and he comes to Coal Station to live with his grandparents, next door to his cousin Gypsy, whose father died years ago -- and whose mother has remarried, to Gypsy's dismay.

Gypsy, like her mother, is a beauty, wit
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for the first time with a co-teacher to a sixth-grade class (11-12 year old kids). Even while it was being read in that strange not-monotone, patronizing way some teachers have, and in spite of the NUMEROUS interruptions that teachers love to intersperse in oral reading, I and the students enjoyed it greatly. I decided to read it with my own classes. In order to avoid the temptation to do the interrupting thing (explaining vocabulary, plot structure, character development, etc.) ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the
doorsill, where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.
-Jalal al-Din Rumi, 13th century

I really like this story because it has so much to tell you in just one book. I learned lots of things which in some way, I have all thought and felt about before but I just couldn't put them into words.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Date read is today, but this is actually one I owned and read repeatedly as a kid. I was thinking about it the other day and decided to re-read to see if it was still as good as I remembered. Short answer: oh yes. The prose is lovely, the descriptions are gorgeous, the setting is vivid, and the main characters are smart and sympathetic but still believable as twelve-year-old kids. The story mostly alternates between sweet (but not saccharine) childhood scenes and Important Conversations about th ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, childrens
Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White is children's literature at its best. It tells the story of two 12-year-old cousins, Gypsy and Woodrow, who in addition to friendship share a painful common bond--the absence of a parent. White deftly handles her two young protagonists, slowly developing their characters and revealing their pasts. By the end of the book, Gypsy and Woodrow have faced--and accepted--the truth, that their parents loved them, but that "their pain was bigger than their love." Despite ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
760L --Newberry Honor
This book balances simplicity with depth. It is only 196 pages and has a story line that is engaging and easy to follow, but there are many ideas worth exploring and discussing. The book has relatable characters who keep things interesting with jokes and stories that the students would enjoy reading, but it also deals with deeper emotions and issues that will make the students think. The students will be able to relate to many of the issues and themes as they include appeara
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, youngadult
Sometimes it's nice to read an award-winning, classic children's novel so that my faith in books can be restored. It's nice to know that a meaningful, didactic, touching story can be told without the use of bad language, sexual content or themes of infidelity. This book was sad and funny at the same time, about some down-on-their-luck young cousins in Virginia in the middle of the 20th century. I'm passing it on to my 10 year old so she can read it next. ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The puzzle about the $30 hotel room split three ways is still tickling my brain. The silly jokes are delightful, as are the imaginative yarns the characters spin along the way. They do well to paint a full picture of the people in Coal Station, Virginia as Gypsy and Woodrow slowly come to terms with their unspeakable griefs. Mix in the few poems/songs from Blind Benny and you get a compelling, if sometimes sobering, story with enough ornamentation to make it rather interesting.
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I was born in the Appalachian hills of Virginia, which is the setting for Belle Prater's Boy and The Search for Belle Prater. I lived there until I graduated from high school and went away to college. Though I left the hills, they never left me. My memories of those years are quite vivid. I have always referred to that time as both traumatic and wonderful. I get most of my ideas for my stories fro ...more

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Belle Prater (2 books)
  • The Search for Belle Prater

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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“Therefore, it is my belief that Blind Benny, even with his poor sightless eyes, is the only person I know who can see with perfect clarity. Because Benny is able to see beyond appearances.” 11 likes
“Their pain was bigger than their love. You had to forgive them for that.” 0 likes
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