Do you think it’s fair that an extraordinarily young woman with THREE Newbery honor awards should write another Newbery contender? I certainly don’t.
But Jennifer Holm has done it again. Her Our Only May Amelia is one of those books that has stayed in my head and heart ever since I read it. And, while in Ohio, librarian Bill Prosser loaned me the sequel, The Trouble with May Amelia, which I ended up staying up all night to finish. It is that good. It may even be better than the first May Amelia book. I do think that in these books, Jennifer Holm most clearly shows the mastery of her craft: a faraway place and time come to life right under our eyes and we are drawn in so completely to the woes and worries and joys (there are a few!) of this Finnish community in southwestern Washington state that we expect to encounter its members right outside our very doors. Or at least, I did.
The story is rich, complex, funny, poignant, horrifying and absolutely real. There is not one false note* in the entire book, from May Amelia’s rough and seemingly unappreciative father, to the wounded cousin who comes to live with the family briefly, to the most satisfying resolution at the end.
Jenni, if I were you, I’d start shopping now for something to wear to a certain banquet in June of 2012.
(*actually, there is a false note: the cover, which portrays Ellie Mae Clampett, rather than May Amelia. Shame on the art director!)