Since I am now a fan of Barbara O'Connor, I had to run out and get all her books to read. I am starting with Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia.
The plot of the book follows the main character, "Bird" Weaver, who is somewhat of a social misfit. A new boy, Bird's age, moves into town and Bird is determined to make him her friend before the others "get to him" and ruin her chances. Her chance comes along when she finds out she must have a partner for the spelling bee. Come to find out Harlem Tate, the new boy, is somewhat of a social misfit as well.
First before I say anything else, I am always drawn to books about spelling bees because I am forever in charge of our school's spelling bee. (I enjoy the position, but I don't think I will ever get out of "being in charge") It is fun to find a book to help me promote the spelling bee. I thought the way they conducted the spelling bee was interesting. I wonder if that is something O'Connor made up or if there are actual spelling bees conducted in this manner.
The characters of this book make it! They are believable, lovable, and honest. Bird is an excellent judge of character, even when no one but her neighbor, Miss Delphine, is judging her correctly. I was rooting for both Bird and Harlem all the way through. But I couldn't help but to be rooting for everyone else as well. (Especially Harlem's father... oooo, great story there, but you'll have to read the book to find out his part in the plot.)
The novel is just the right length for a recommendation because it will not overwhelm the reader. -- Just 112 pages. I think the setting is fun too. I love books set in the south and I know a lot of the cities mentioned as we used to visit that area of Georgia each summer. I am going to say this right here and hope no one is offended, but... I was totally attracted to the cover, I loved the art. But I can't for the life of me figure out how it represents the story? Sure the girl looks like maybe what I expect, but the whole rest of the picture matches nothing in the book? Strange, I think. Maybe it is just me.
The message of the novel is perfect for fifth grade/sixth grade age students. It is important for me to teach children to see the worth in everyone around them, friends, family, or mere acquaintances.