Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Belle Prater's Boy
  • Alternative view 1 of Belle Prater's Boy
  • Alternative view 2 of Belle Prater's Boy

Belle Prater's Boy

4.1 47
by Ruth White

See All Formats & Editions

Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning on October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth.

Everyone in Coal Station, Virginia, has a theory about what happened to Belle Prater, but twelve-year-old Gypsy wants the facts, and when her cousin Woodrow, Aunt Belle's son moves next door, she has her chance. Woodrow isn't


Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning on October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth.

Everyone in Coal Station, Virginia, has a theory about what happened to Belle Prater, but twelve-year-old Gypsy wants the facts, and when her cousin Woodrow, Aunt Belle's son moves next door, she has her chance. Woodrow isn't as forthcoming as Gypsy hopes, yet he becomes more than just a curiosity to her-- during their sixth-grade year she finds that they have enough in common to be best friends. Even so, Gypsy is puzzled by Woodrow's calm acceptance of his mother's disappearance, especially since she herself has never gotten over her father's death. When Woodrow finally reveals that he's been keeping a secret about his mother, Gypsy begins to understand that there are different ways of finding the strength to face the truth, no matter how painful it is.

Belle Prater's Boy is a 1996 Boston Globe - Horn Book Awards Honor Book for Fiction and a 1997 Newbery Honor Book.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Gypsy, the 12-year-old narrator, is all excited when her cousin Woodrow moves in with their grandparents next door-- Woodrow's mother...has disappeared without a trace, and Gypsy hopes that Woodrow will divulge some new clues. Instead, she gets a best friend...White creates vivacious, memorable characters.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“An admirable, stirring book.” —The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW gave a starred review to this Newbery Honor book about the friendship between a sorrowing 12-year-old girl and an unusual boy in 1950s Western Virginia: "so fresh that readers can practically smell the lilacs and the blossoming fruit trees." Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Ruth White writes of life in the "hollers" of the Appalachians and her novels deliver powerful characters, intriguing plots, and great writing. Belle Prater's Boy begins "Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning in October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth." The mystery pervades the pages of the book that tell of the relationship of Belle's son, Woodrow and his cousin, the main character, Gypsy. Woodrow has grown up poor and unappealing in physical appearance. His cousin, Gypsy, is noted for her beauty, but wishes she'd be seen for who she really is, not what she looks like. The two are united largely because of their intelligence, wit, and good humor, but also on a deeper level, because both keep unspoken secrets. Gypsy has hidden from herself the horrors of her father's suicide and Woodrow keeps to himself his thoughts about his mother's disappearance. The book creates an air of mystery as Gypsy and Woodrow untangle of the difference between appearance and the genuine. They struggle to find those genuine places within themselves in the context of seeing how their parents have been controlled by facade, rather than truths.
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
In this beautifully written novel, Gypsy tells the story of her sixth grade year when her cousin Woodrow comes to live next door. Woodrow's mother Belle had mysteriously disappeared earlier that year and everyone in this small Virgina town has a theory about what happened to her. Gypsy befriends her cousin and attempts to solve the mystery. The closer she gets to the truth, the more memories of her own father's tragic death surface, forcing her to face the facts about his demise. By coming to terms with her own situation, Gypsy realizes that Woodrow and his mother Belle have developed their own ways of dealing with painful memories; a painful yet liberating realization.
The ALAN Review - Joyce A. Litton
Ruth White has a strong sense of place in her depiction of Appalachian Coal Station, Virginia, in 1954. Her main theme, the loss of a parent, is a somber one, but she leavens it with humor. Twelve-year-old Woodrow Prater tells fanciful stories about his mother's disappearance a year earlier to silence the curious and to comfort himself. His sixth-grade cousin, Gypsy Leemaster, must come to grips with the reality that she has repressed her father's suicide (when she was five years old) and her discovery of the body. To show her anger at her father, she chops off her waist-length hair which had been his pride. Once Gypsy accepts her loss, Woodrow is able to tell her the truth about his mother. This novel should help young adults who are grieving over a parent.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Belle Prater becomes the stuff of local legend in Coal Station, Virginia, when she disappears, leaving everyone mystified. Because his father drinks, Belle's boy, cross-eyed Woodrow, comes to live with his grandparents on the finest residential street in town; and 12-year-old Gypsy, his cousin who lives next door and narrates the story, is glad to get to know him. Like everyone else, she is curious about his mother; but Woodrow will only tell her a fantastic story about a magical place. Nevertheless, the girl comes to admire her cousin for the way he uses his superior intelligence and pleasant personality to adapt to a more affluent life, fend off rude questions about his mother, and handle the local bully. Gypsy seems to lead an idyllic life, but when a schoolmate puts a face on her recurring nightmare, she collapses in the rush of long-repressed sorrow. White paints a vivid picture of small town Appalachia in the 1950s, from the ostracism of a blind "sin eater" to the preening of social "wannabes." Characterization is superb. Gypsy's evolving understanding of her late father's values and her stepfather's virtues is especially well done. White's message-that there is no protection for any of us from pain, only a variety of ways to handle it-is delivered with just right dollops of humor and love. What's important, as Gypsy's grandmother puts it, is to let our true selves shine. A delightful read by a real truth teller.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Belle Prater Series , #1
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.62(h) x 0.82(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Ruth White is the author of Sweet Creek Holler, an ALA Notable Book, and Weeping Willow, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Belle Prater's Boy 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This bok will touch your heart as you rea and discover the people and their secrets of coal station..... this book is out the disappearance of belle prater and the adventures gypsy and woodrow...... how they trto find belle abd their adventures while searching...... you will be very sorry if you dont read this book..... unless you are cold hearted
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the books I read back in fourth grade, and the first book that actually made me cry. The book is well understood, yet has a very deep meaning. I would reccomend it to any children, or even teens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book!! I read it in 5th grade for a report and in the 6th grade I started reading it because I had to read something in class during exams and thats all I had to read. I didn't think I was going to read the WHOLE thing over but I did. I've read it twice now. It's a really good book! One of my favorites and I dont read much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was SUCH a wonderful book! I would definatley read it again. I would reccomened anybody to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
what a fantastic book that was. very realistic, mysterious and charming. i would definitly recommend this book to anybody. to be honest, the only part that i'm confused about is, what ever did happened to woodrow's mother?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book and you will too! What did ever happen to Belle
Guest More than 1 year ago
Belle Prater's Boy is about Belle Prater's boy,Woodrow. Woodrow goes to live with his granparents when Belle dissapears. Next door lives his cousin Gypsy,her stepfather Porter,and her mother Love,Belle's sister. They tell each other the thing they want more than anything.They go on adventures and tell stories and tell jokes. To find out more about this story, read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.My mom got it for me last year for easter,and I was a bit hesistant at first but then after I read it it was totally different then I expected!A very good,no great book!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was filled with heartwarming scenes. Laughter and tears filled this book up. This is my number one pick for emotional readers. GO GET THIS BOOK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was the best I have ever read! Some parts I want to read over and over. And you want to see what happened to Belle Prater. It has suspense, excitement, and it is enjoying, all in one book. Anyone that doesn't read this is really missing out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is seriously a great book, I will always remember the ONE book I was forced to read, but actually ended up loving.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is great, for kids and adults alike! Has an awesome setting and plot. The characters are nicely displayed. It's a must-read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this story because it has a lot of suspense. These are my favorite type of books to read, I love how I enjoyed every single page of this book and Belle Prater's boy won't let you skip any of its pages. Read it and you'll agree with me!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great! Makes you think, ' Where's Belle Prater? What is that place behind Woodrow's house? Whatever happened to Amos?' It is so funny, and so anticipating!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There were a lot of things that I liked about this story. The two main things I liked story are It is a mystery and I also liked it when Woodrow told stories. The main characters were Gypsy and Woodrow. They lived by the Appalachian Mountians. They lived in Coal Station, Virginia. It was during the 1950's. the most interesting thing was when Belle Prater dissappers and Woodrow lives with his grandperents. there is more information in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post storys here!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good book I love it!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot is weak because the characters only talk about belle and don't do anything and the book is boring because of it plus the context is difficult for young children to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you read this book and you ennjoyed it. She wrote a sequel and it is called: The Search for Belle Prater.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a sequel to this book. It looks pretty good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Four stars cauae it leaves you hanging
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good book. Everyone should read it.