Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different

Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different

4.3 3
by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

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AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER prides herself on doing things her way. But she meets her match when she, her mama, and her pin-curled older sis, Katie, move in with her cantankerous Gramps. The Oliver gals were supposed to join Pop in Knoxville for some big-city living, but Gramps’s recent sick spell convinced Mama to stay put in Cades Cove, a place of swishy meadows…  See more details below


AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER prides herself on doing things her way. But she meets her match when she, her mama, and her pin-curled older sis, Katie, move in with her cantankerous Gramps. The Oliver gals were supposed to join Pop in Knoxville for some big-city living, but Gramps’s recent sick spell convinced Mama to stay put in Cades Cove, a place of swishy meadows and shady hollers that lies on the crest of the Great Smoky Mountains.

And it’s not like there’s nothing going on in the Cove. Folks are all aflutter about turning their land into a national park, and Autumn’s not sure what to think. Loggers like Pop need jobs, but if things keep going at the current rate, the forests will soon be chopped to bits. And Gramps seems to think there’s some serious tourist money to be made. Looks like something different is definitely in order. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 4-7

Eleven-year-old Autumn wants nothing more than to leave Cades Cove for the greater excitement of Knoxville, but she doesn't want to see it destroyed in the making of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Government workers have assured her enthusiastic grandfather that their town will be outside the boundaries, and will prosper from the tourist trade. But Autumn learns from the CCC workers that this is not true and she watches them tear down her childhood home. She has to get Gramps to change his mind. Setting her story in eastern Tennessee in 1934, Tubb ably conveys the beauty of the park area as well as less-attractive aspects of its history. Besides being a "sneak and a schemer" in Autumn's eyes, Gramps is a lively storyteller, and bits of Appalachian folklore are smoothly woven into the narrative. He is really the focus of the novel, the character who changes and whose efforts preserve at least a portion of the family's world. In spite of her folksy first-person voice, Autumn doesn't really come alive to lift the story beyond its historical and geographical interest.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

Kirkus Reviews
The creation of the Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934 drives this debut novel. Cades Cove, Tenn., may be beautiful, but to spunky 11-year-old Autumn Winifred Oliver, it is dullsville. She's fuming after Mama announces that their move to Knoxville has been postponed to care for Gramps, who is recuperating from a sick spell. A girl who "does things different," Autumn pays close attention to Gramps, who's pushing the Government's plan to create a national park in the Smoky Mountains that surround Cades Cove. He's got his eye on tourist dollars, but Autumn soon discovers that once the park is operational, loggers like her pop will be out of work. On top of that, the park will oust Cades Cove residents from their homes. Autumn's narration, peppered as it is with Appalachian superstitions and homey, colorful phrases, grows tiresome and at times seems too mature. Readers will hope for a solution, but unfortunately the conflict between the U.S. government and Cades Cove's residents is weakened by a labyrinth of subplots and a too-neat ending. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


I do things different. It helps to remind yourself of that when you're attending your own funeral.

So there I stood, on something akin to a big, bald behind. Mighty appropriate circumstances, considering what came next.

I was in the Meadow in the Sky on top of Thunderhead Mountain. Thunderhead gets its name because it's so high up, thunderstorms crack and boom and dump rain below you. There aren't any trees up there, so the mountaintop is nothing but a big, swishy meadow. Folks around here call it a "bald," and it looks enough like a hairless head. But all those mountains together, they look more to me like they're baring their rumps to the heavens above. So I figure all this talk about a national park is nothing but a bunch of hoo-ha. Who'd travel across the country to see this?

Truth be told, I cotton to the balds, myself. Those balds, they're a bit of a mystery. Nobody knows for sure why trees don't grow on them. It's not that the mountains are too tall, or that the weather is too cold. I suppose those balds just don't want to be like every other mountain.

Yeah, I guess I'll miss old Thunderhead most of all once we finally join Pop in Knoxville. Knoxville. I glow like a lightning bug every time I think about all that big-city living. Just nineteen more days.

Knoxville's thirty miles away as the crow flies, but boy, are those some bumpy miles by land. There's but one road out of Cades Cove, and it's snowed in three months of the year. Cades Cove is like an island, a speck of a town surrounded by wave after wave of mountains. (Course, I've never seen the ocean. I hear it's salty. Me, I prefer sweets.) Those mountains circling our tiny town serve to keep out all that's new. Others in the Cove are just fine with the old, but me, I like new.

Don't get me wrong--for the most part, I love this here Cove. But I'm not cut from the same chunk of wood as the folks who've whittled away their lives here. I reckon I'm a chain saw in a stack of axes. See, Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different. Least that's what our neighbors are fond of saying. Course, they don't use that exact word, "different." They're more apt to say "rascally" or "rampageous" or "up to no good."

Another storm stirred below. My dusty blond hair whipped across my face, stinging it like a sunburn. I smelled the drops in the air. The pine trees way below bent practically in half in all the frenzy. It'd make a right nice drawing if I were inclined to sit and sketch. But, wind aside, the weather up on Thunderhead was clear as glass. When it's clear, it feels like you can reach right up and touch the sun, and that's what I was aiming to do. So I'm surprised I heard the bells at all.

Church bells ringing on any day other than the Sabbath is a sound that prickles your neck hairs. On those days, ringing bells tally up the age of the Cove's latest dearly departed. Most times, just counting the number of tolls tells you who's passed. So I listened hard and counted: ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong, ding.

Eleven tolls total. Wait . . . eleven? That ain't right! I did some quick figuring: me, Donnie Dunlap, and Twig Ogle hit the mark. But Donnie'd been in the Sugarlands all summer helping his uncle, and Twig and her family were on their fancy vacation to Gatlinburg that week. So time being, I was the only one in the whole dang Cove who was eleven! But the bells stopped ringing right at that number, no joshing.

So that's pretty much how I found out I'd died.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Meet the Author

Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different is Kristin O’Donnell Tubb’s first novel. She lives in middle Tennessee with her husband and their two children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JessicaYoung More than 1 year ago
A wonderful read for middle grade girls and boys, fans of Tennessee, US history, or the National Parks, or anyone who "does things different!" Autumn keeps you guessing what her next move will be as she tries to save her Cades Cove home. Tubb weaves in so much Tennessee, US, and National Parks history, but you don't realize how much you're learning, as it's so entertaining. The authentic characters, hilarious plot twists, and sense of place make this a great read for all ages.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Autumn Winifred Oliver has a lot going on for an 11-year-old living in the tiny, mountain settlement of Cades Cove, Tennessee. She's waiting to move with her mom and big sister Katie to Knoxville, where her dad already lives and works. She'll miss the beautiful mountains she lives in, but in the 1930s the "big city" offers the allure of indoor plumbing, movie theaters and automobiles, all nearly non-existent in her neck of the woods. Everybody says she does things different, and she keeps reminding herself of that as she gets herself in and out of several pickles. First, she hears the church bells toll her reputed death-they always toll the number of years for the recently departed, and she's the only one around who is 11 when she hears them ring. Then she finds out her grandpa almost died, and her mom has decided Knoxville can wait while she moves into his cabin in the woods to help care for him. There's also more activity than usual in Cades Cove, a settlement that's totally cut off from the outside world each winter when the only road in gets covered in snow. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is being created right on the edge of town, and everyone is abuzz about raking in money from tourists. But Autumn Winifred Oliver suspects that everything is not as it seems with the park, and she won't rest until she finds out the real story. Autumn is a delightful character with a down to earth voice, and through her eyes we see the beauty of the mountains, streams, and countryside around her home. She is placed within the real story of Cades Cove, Tennessee, and the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You'll be charmed by the folk tales, old-time remedies and superstitions woven seamlessly by author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb throughout the story. This is Tubb's debut novel, and I hope to see more books from her in the years to come. Moms and daughters alike will fall in love with Autumn and her way of looking at the world. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged nine and up.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Most folks wouldn't shove sticks in the beaks of geese to keep them from eating in their gardens, but Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different. In a mountain town so tiny it only has one road leading in and out, different is something folks in Autumn's parts don't always cotton to. But sometimes it takes a special kind of thinking to make things change, which is the one thing Autumn craves more than anything. Change.

Autumn seems to have a lot in common with Gramps, who's determined to convince the thirty families in Cades Cove to sign papers that will allow a new national park to border their little town. Convinced that there's more to Gramps' idea than just collecting money from passing tourists, Autumn sets out to find the truth, only to find much more than she'd bargained for, including more approaching change than she could have imagined.

With a setting that jumps to life, debut author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb tells the story of Cades Cove through strong character voices intertwined with glorious description:

"The trees had turned into a showy blaze of orange and red and yellow bursts - miniature suns, each one. Those durn trees! They put on this spectacle every year, and I swannee they get better at it with practice."

Historical fiction can sometimes be off-putting to middle grade readers, but the author handles this one so deftly, it's not immediately obvious the book is set during the Great Depression. By the time the subject comes up, Autumn has hooked the audience and is off and running.

Adventures and folktales carry us through Autumn's story as she and her neighbors come to terms with the fact that Cades Cove is about to change forever, one way or another. Readers will appreciate the unique last rites of the small town's traditions and ways of life as they give way to modernization, progress, and change.

A one-of-a-kind, carefully crafted story with a life of its own.