Monday, June 06, 2005

The Search for Belle Prater

Belle Prater’s Boy, the Newbery Honor Book by Ruth White, introduces readers to small-town Appalachia of the 1950s. This appeals to me because the 50s are an integral part of my childhood memories – though I did not grow up in Appalachia, I did grow up in a small town in Illinois. This sequel takes place about a year after Belle Prater’s disappearance.

Woodrow, Belle’s son, and his cousin Gypsy Arbutus Leemaster and a new girl Cassie Caulborne help each other search for what each is looking for. They decide to take a bus to Bluefield to search for Woodrow’s mother. On the bus they meet Joseph, an African American boy, who is also searching for a lost parent. This friendship introduces the characters to prejudice as it existed in the 1950s. After some adventures the characters develop their friendships and resolve their own dilemmas.

I found this book comfortable and a very pleasant reading experience. I was able to connect to taking a bus trip alone to a city -- something my friends and I did when we were thirteen.

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