professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Part of Me, a whole lot of wonderful stories

As many of us prepare to travel to New Orleans in a few weeks for ALA, it is perhaps fitting that Kimberly Willis Holt's galley was the one I picked up to read yesterday. Still a bit jetlagged, I thought I would read a bit and then take a nap. The gods of reading interceded, and I read the book from cover to cover (and then did finally get that nap). Four generations of a family are defined within this slim novel that follows Rose as her mother moves the family from Texas back to her native Louisiana. Rose lies about her age and gets a job driving the town bookmobile. Rose is already a lover of books and stories. and her stint as a bookmobile driver leads her to find her husband. The story then shifts to Rose's son Merle Henry who, unlike his mother, is more fond of trapping than reading. As the novel progresses, vignettes let readers explore the family through the next generation as Merle's daughter, Annabeth, and her son, Kyle, also find some comfort within stories. The novel comes full circle with a lovely, satisfying ending that is actually more of a new beginning for some of the family.

As always, Holt gives readers lyrical language, this time with the bayou rhythms strongest. Characters are drawn with broad strokes and accompanied by incredible details that provide insight into the true nature of each family member. This story begs to be read aloud so that kids can hear the gentle rhythms. Its episodic format, giving readers only small glimpses into everyday life, also lends itself to a read aloud effort. Holt is always a delight to read; her newest book pays tribute to her Louisiana heritage and might just allow contemporary kids to see the beauty of Louisiana culture, landscape, and language.

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