SUMMER LIGHTNING by Judith Richards


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The publishers suggest the broad appeal of To Kill a Mockingbird, the author alludes to Huck and Torn, and readers will recall all those attractive mischievousboy/sage-old-man stories as they get to like six-year-old Terrell Calder and his octogenarian buddy Mr. McCree. Terry is one of those trouble-prone kids who'll convert beautifully to film: he dumps unwanted oatmeal in the silverware drawer, rides the packing plant chute intended for tomato crates, and sells his lunch and begged cigarettes for profit. He also hangs around with an accepting black laundress and her (usually naked) granddaughter, sometimes teaming up with older friend Bucky Dallas for shenanigans. Meanwhile he avoids the truant officer, eludes his parents' efforts to deliver him to first grade, and spends his days in the Florida swamp where the seasoned McCree, who nicknames lure Little Hawk, teaches him survival skills--how to charm birds or fish without bait. Eventually Terry's chronic truancy lands the whole bunch in Court where, despite the apparent delinquency-of-a-minor evidence, McCree admirably acquits himself and makes Little Hawk's school vs. swamp dilemma understood by the doubters. Set in 1941 and fitted out with perplexed but good parents and a few tickler background details (like a believable visit from Eleanor Roosevelt to Terry's migrant camp director father), this is G-rated milk-and-cookies fiction, widely accessible and not too sweet.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's