Books by Patricia Calvert

BETRAYED! by Patricia Calvert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2001

Continuing the post-Civil War tale begun in Bigger (1994) and continued in Sooner (1998), Calvert takes young Tyler Bohannon, along with his ex-slave companion Isaac Peerce and dog Sooner, from Missouri to California. Already feeling wronged by his father, who had abandoned the family to fight in the war, and his mother, for remarrying, Tyler gets more bees in his bonnet when a keelboat captain treacherously trades him and Isaac to a group of Sioux. Then, adding insult to injury, Isaac gets far better treatment because his dark skin and woolly hair amaze their captors. Worst of all, when Tyler talks about escaping their enslavement, Isaac is reluctant to leave. Calvert hammers the irony of the role reversal into the ground, and fills Tyler so full of resentment that he comes across as little more than a walking sense of aggrievance. He's also a bully; not only does he eventually browbeat Isaac into slipping away with him, but, deeply shocked by a white orphan's disinterest in returning to white society, tries to drag her along too. In a quick, tidy resolution, the author brings Tyler and Isaac to Fort Benton, where they find the keelboat captain dying and Tyler's stepfather waiting with fresh supplies, then sends the two travelers on to California in an afterword. This is billed as the final volume of a trilogy, but except for Tyler showing some signs of letting his resentment go, there's little sense of closure. Weak. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
SOONER by Patricia Calvert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1998

Having traveled all the way to Texas in a vain effort to persuade his father to come back to Missouri, Tyler, 13, discovers, resists, and ultimately embraces the inevitability of change in this strong, simple sequel to Bigger (1994). Driven by the hope that Black Jack Bohannon will come back on his own one day, Tyler, his mother, and brother work to keep the farm going. That hope is snuffed when ex-slave Isaac Peerce reappears, bearing proof that Black Jack is dead. Tyler had always expected to live and die on the farm, but loses his position as man of the house when his mother marries widower Elway Snepp. It's time to head west, and—like father, like son—Tyler never looks back. Calvert peoples her story with a mix of likable characters both steady and hot-headed, not the least of which is the dog for whom this book is named. She recaps the earlier book in detail, sets the larger post—Civil War scene with a historical foreword and an afterword, and gives Tyler's change of heart believable reasons and pacing. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
GREAT LIVES by Patricia Calvert
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Continuing the Great Lives series, Calvert (Glennis, Before and After, 1996, etc.) offers an intimate introduction to the men and women who tamed the American West with this engaging and friendly history. Each of the 26 chapters (19 men, 7 women) focuses on a single person: A capsule entry gives the facts, followed by a narrative. Readers learn that although the legendary Daniel Boone's reputation brought him fame in Europe and the US, he was always strapped for cash. John Deere, the man whom Calvert cites as the individual most responsible for revolutionizing American agriculture, is also shown as a perfectionist who couldn't run his own business successfully. Perhaps even more fascinating are the frequent chance meetings of mythic figures: Even though the territory was so vast, many of these folks crossed paths more than once. (index, not seen, b&w photographs and illustrations, further reading) (Biography. 11- 14) Read full book review >
GLENNIS, BEFORE AND AFTER by Patricia Calvert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Her father is in prison and the family has broken up, but Glennis is convinced that things will soon go back to the way they were in this introspective problem novel. Convinced of her father's innocence, Glennis moves in with black-sheep Aunt Wanda so she can visit him every Saturday at the nearby Federal Detention Center. The crisis comes when her father, convicted of fraud, tells her he's guilty. Glennis angrily breaks off her visits and launches a series of projects: wresting her attention-starved cousin, Skipper, away from the TV; persuading Wanda to quilt again; and organizing a picnic for her scattered family. She realizes that her brother, sisters, and mother—who is recuperating from a nervous breakdown—have new lives and won't be getting back together. While an unlikely scene in which Glennis suddenly confesses her secret to her whole class may torpedo the author's credibility, Calvert (Writing To Richie, 1994, etc.) creates a compulsively self-analytical character ``older than twelve, not quite thirteen.'' Glennis, with some prodding from an older, wiser supporting cast, learns that she has built a prison for herself out of naãve hopes but has the ability to change and, ultimately, to forgive. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >
WRITING TO RICHIE by Patricia Calvert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

David and his younger brother, Richie, are headed to their new foster home. Although their parents are alive, their mother's stints in asylums and their father's drinking have caused Child Aid to take over their upbringing. They must move often (Child Aid policy doesn't allow children and foster parents to get too attached), but they have always managed to stay together. As they drive, David tells Richie the story of their dream home (loud echoes of Of Mice and Men) where there will be a front porch, a garden for them to play in, and two large beds for them to sleep in. Amazingly, the Birks' house fits the description, down to the treasure box. But Richie doesn't enjoy life with the Birks for long. During lunch at school, he suffers an allergic reaction and dies. Now David is alone, feeling guilty that he couldn't protect Richie from all harm. The Birks get a new foster child, a skinny red-headed girl with a lot of attitude named Ollie. Fearless and brassy, her motto is ``Don't Take Crap.'' She and David become friends. David and the Birks smooth Ollie's edges, and Ollie helps David reclaim Richie's memory. Although Calvert (Bigger, p. 553, etc.) tries to pack too much into this slim novel, honest emotion holds it all together. (Fiction. 9-11) Read full book review >
BIGGER by Patricia Calvert
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1994

The Civil War is over, but Tyler is still waiting for his father, Black Jack Bohannon, to return to their Missouri home. Hearing of Confederate soldiers who, rather than surrender, are moving into Mexico to gather their forces, Tyler decides Black Jack must be among them and begins a journey to the border, determined to locate him and dreaming of their happy reunion. Along the way he adopts an abused dog and becomes friends with an abused slave; but when he eventually returns home he's alone once more. His father has chosen to remain a soldier and the family may never see him again. Tyler's dawning maturity is sensitively handled. It may seem as if he grows up a lot in five months, but his cleansing journey reaches closure before he begins to rebuild his life, as the country must also rebuild. But while the story is infused with compassion for players in the historical tragedy, Calvert inspires less concern for characters involved in the plot. With a modern sensibility toward battle, she deromanticizes the War even while offering up an idealized boy with no faults or troubles beyond missing his pa; and though much is made of his bond with the dog, it's never really heartfelt. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
PICKING UP THE PIECES by Patricia Calvert
FICTION
Released: April 30, 1993

Megan, 14, has always loved summer at the lake until a spinal injury changes her life ``forever...only seven letters...its true meaning...too huge...to comprehend.'' The simplest activities now take ``tons of time''; days of running and basketball are gone, along with dreams of college, coaching, even marriage and kids. Then she meets new neighbors: Julia, an aging actress whose fears Megan understands all too well; and Harris, a boy her own age. Life hasn't been easy for Harris, but he always sees possibilities: When he looks at Megan, he sees her, not her disability. Soon she's rowing a boat, reading lines for Julia, practicing for a wheelchair race; by summer's end, her new confidence and ability to cope with challenge raise the possibility of a return to school. In this sensitive portrait of a girl determined to find her way, Calvert once again explores themes of loneliness, isolation, and estrangement. Without belaboring the point, she clearly presents the physical and emotional realities and Megan's need to be accepted as a person. The supporting cast is nicely realized and credible—especially the likable and exceptional Harris. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >