COME SING, JIMMY JO by Katherine Peterson
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His name is James, but the Johnson Family's new agent changes it to Jimmy Jo when the 11-year-old joins the adults in their country music group. So shy at the start that he will sing only for his beloved Grandma, James finds himself on stage ""so anxious to sing and pick that he never once thought about being scared."" A sweet singer with what Grandma calls ""the Gift,"" he pours all his love for her into his delivery, and the crowd goes wild. Soon, he is singing just as sincerely out of love for the audience. Trouble is, his uncle Earl (Daddy Jerry Lee's brother) doesn't want James butting in, and his mother Keri Su feels eclipsed by his success. So Keri Su and Earl go their own way with a flashier sound; and when their new slickness doesn't go over on the family TV show, the two split for Nashville and cut a record--of the song Daddy wrote for James! Worse, it seems there's more than music between the two. Why won't Daddy stand up to them? Then, to James' grief, he discovers that Jerry Lee is not his father. Upset with all the Johnsons, he refuses to join them onstage. There is more to James' story: his whole other, uncomfortable life at school adds flesh and texture, as well as urgency, for James and some humorous relief for readers. Paterson is so good at making readers feel for and with her child character that any question of manipulation is bound to appear unseemly. And if the more resistant will wince at the family's last-page reunion onstage, most readers will have already given their hearts to Jimmy Jo.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1985
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton