SPELLDOWN by Karon Luddy
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 10 - 14
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An ambitious teen with a voluminous vocabulary beats the odds and spells her way to success. Thirteen-year-old Karlene Bridges lives in Red Clover, S.C. in 1968, where her “heart aches for some . . . freedom.” Karlene would rather “be tumbling down Niagara Falls in a big, stinking barrel than stuck in Red Clover” for the rest of her life. She has big plans to win the Shirley County Spelling Bee, and her free-spirited eighth-grade Latin teacher, Mrs. Harrison, offers to coach her. Reinforced by Mrs. Harrison and her budding sweetheart, Billy Ray, Karlene sweeps the county and state spelling championships, earning a chance to complete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. But when her alcoholic father ends up in rehab, Karlene wonders if she has what it takes to be a real champion. Karlene’s engaging personal journey from word whiz-kid to winning young woman is artfully glossed with the emerging feminism of the late 1960s. This first-rate spelldown will have readers spellbound. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 2007
ISBN: 1-4169-1610-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2006