TOBY ALONE; TOBY AND JOHNNY JOE by Robbie Branscum

TOBY ALONE; TOBY AND JOHNNY JOE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Toby (of Toby, Granny, and George, 1976), just 14, is alone after Granny dies, though before that happens she has got engaged to neighbor Johnny Joe Treat, no longer mute now that his vicious father is dead. Granny dies despite Toby's attempt to revive the old woman's interest in life by getting her hopping mad. As it turns out, Toby does more harm than good with her silly scheme--planting a rumor that she (Toby) is the illegitimate child of Granny and her old friend the preacher--and big Johnny Joe spanks her over his knee ""to get her to do right."" Toby's grief and self-isolation after Granny's death send Johnny Joe into the clutches of a conniving city gift, but Toby wins him back with ardent kisses and the second story starts with Toby, not yet 16 but hopefully ""a woman grown,"" making a fuss at her own wedding by refusing to promise to obey. A little later she jumps out the bedroom window and runs off through the woods when she sees what Johnny Joe plans to ""poke"" her with. But soon life is all bursting, ""straddle-legged"" happiness, which only ends with Pearl Harbor--and Johnny Joe and the other men going off to war. Toby is pregnant by then, but she loses the baby. Johnny Joe is reported missing, but turns up wounded, and Toby has to write letters feigning helplessness on the farm so he will feel needed and come home despite his shame at having lost a leg. The publishers give this pulpy corn a 12-to-18 age designation, though like Toby, Granny, and George the books are small in size, large in print, simple in language, and (more than their predecessor) dirt-poor in dimension. Probably backward teenagers are the most likely audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1979
ISBN: 385-14017-7
Publisher: Doubleday