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by Shutta Crum

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: April 21st, 2003
ISBN: 0-618-23477-2
Publisher: Clarion

Twelve-year-old Jessie can’t decide which is worse, having no father or one that’s no good. Secrets and strangers are few in her small town of Baylor, Kentucky, until Miss Woodruff, a VISTA volunteer, arrives in the summer of 1967, changing the lives of Jessie, her friend Robert, and his brother, Baby Blue, and their families. When Miss Woodruff says government help is available for medical needs and schooling, Jessie plans to raise $20 to get Robert new glasses. When two photographers need a guide to show them all the people and places of local color, Jessie earns ten dollars. But her plan backfires when a photo of dirty, barefoot Baby Blue sleeping on Cooch, their dog, appears in a national paper, and everyone is embarrassed at the way they’re portrayed. Backwoods, small-town flavor is peppered with distinct characters and Jessie’s spirit and determination drive the plot and theme of fathers. The dilemma is believably resolved with both emotional pain and gain as issues of bigotry, hatred, moonshiners, and religious snake-handling thread through the story. Her cover portrait will draw readers; her voice will intrigue them. (Fiction. 9-13)