Gentle's Holler

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The sixties may have come to other parts of North Carolina, but with Mama pregnant again, Daddy struggling to find work, and nine siblings underfoot, nobody in the holler has much time for modern-day notions. Especially not twelve-year-old Livy Two, aspiring songwriter and self-appointed guardian of little sister Gentle, whose eyes ?don?t work so good yet.? Even after a doctor confirms her fears, Livy Two is determined to make the best of Gentle?s situation and sets out to transform the family?s scrappy ...
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Overview


The sixties may have come to other parts of North Carolina, but with Mama pregnant again, Daddy struggling to find work, and nine siblings underfoot, nobody in the holler has much time for modern-day notions. Especially not twelve-year-old Livy Two, aspiring songwriter and self-appointed guardian of little sister Gentle, whose eyes “don’t work so good yet.” Even after a doctor confirms her fears, Livy Two is determined to make the best of Gentle’s situation and sets out to transform the family’s scrappy dachshund into a genuine Seeing Eye dog. But when tragedy strikes, can Livy Two continue to stay strong for her family?

In the early 1960s, twelve-year-old songwriter Livy Two Weems dreams of seeing the world beyond the Maggie Valley, North Carolina, holler where she lives in poverty with her parents and eight brothers and sisters, but understands that she must put family first.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the center of Madden's (Offsides, for adults) tender novel (her first for children) about a poor and loving family in the mountains of 1960s North Carolina, is 11-year old "Livy Two." The third and perhaps most spirited of the children, Livy Two, who narrates, is charged with taking care of her three-year-old blind sister, Gentle. The first Olivia died at birth and Livy Two often prays to her for solace. Her older brother, Emmett, is feeling tension with his father, Tom, and is getting restless to move on. Meanwhile Tom hopes to make it by selling a hit song in Nashville and her mother, Jessie, works to keep the family of 10 fed and clothed. Livy Two replays all the sweet and sad moments of family life on the guitar with her own songs, such as when she overhears one of her sisters quietly describing color to Gentle: "Eat this blueberry and you'll understand the color blue." Just when things start to look up-Tom lands a job on a local TV show, and he and Livy Two plan to perform at a local concert-tragedy hits and the family digs even deeper for the grace and strength to heal differences and go on. Along with an assortment of affecting family members-particularly Grandma Horace with her collection of glass eyes, and Uncle Hazard the dog-Livy Two will burrow deeply into the hearts of young readers. Ages 9-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Twelve-year-old Livy Two Weems lives in a holler in the 1960's in the North Carolina mountains. She is named for another Livy, a baby that her mother lost in infancy and so Livy Two feels connected to her family's past. The present is difficult. Her mother is continually pregnant (now with her ninth), her father is just as continually short of money and it seems as if his musical talents will never be discovered, and her bossy, sometimes cruel grandmother is trying to take over their lives. Livy's talented, too, and dreams of getting beyond the mountains to a larger world. That seems farther and farther into the future as she cares for her family and finds comfort in them, especially Gentle, a sweet blind three-year-old who needs her. The book is strong in mountain voice, family warmth, and well-rounded characters. 2005, Viking, Ages 10 to 12.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-The 1960's and the Great Smoky Mountains come to life in this tale of family and friendship by Kerry Madden (Viking, 2005). Eleven-year-old Livy Two (named for her dead sister Olivia) lives in Maggie Valley, NC, with seven brothers and sisters. Life is hard and Livy often goes to bed hungry for food but full of love from her practical Mama and her dreamer of a Daddy. Livy spends the summer climbing trees, writing songs in her head, and walking miles to the visiting bookmobile. She longs to see the world, and is furious when her brother trades the family for a job in town and a full stomach every night. To make matters worse, her cranky grandmother comes to visit and her baby sister, Gentle, is blind. When her father is in a coma after an accident, Livy discovers how a loving family can pull together and thrive. The performance of narrator Kate Forbes is flawless. She beautifully interprets Livy's voice and the delivery is as gentle and warm as a summer breeze. Move over, John-Boy Walton-the author has plans for two more books set in Maggie Valley.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In her debut for young readers, Madden creates a warmhearted, compelling family drama about the Weems, circa early 1960s. They grow up poor in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, move often and settle in Maggie Valley, a "holler" filled with honeysuckle and wildflowers. Told from the keen-eyed point of view of 11-year-old Livy Two, one of nine children (the tenth, Livy One, died at birth), the story is layered with details of their mountain life, their struggles, crises and day-to-day moments of joy: "I get my songwriting from Daddy, who plans on selling a banjo hit any day now, so we can eat regular." And there's humor too. Livy Two is a dreamer, a reader, songwriter/guitar player; she has "an itch in [her] bones to visit exotic lands," and when it comes to her family, especially her three-year-old sister Gentle, who is diagnosed as blind, she's a resourceful and generous problem-solver. Though some of the plot elements strain credibility, the graceful, spirited and, above all, sensory richness of the writing make this work stand out. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670059980
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/3/2005
  • Series: Maggie Valley Trilogy
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author


Kerry Madden has written plays, journalism (Los Angeles Times, Salon, Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Sierra Club Magazine), and six books including Offsides, a New York Library Pick for 1997, and Writing Smarts, a guide to creative writing published by American Girl. In 2005 she turned her hand to children’s literature with Gentle's Holler, the first installment in what became the award-winning Maggie Valley Trilogy, Viking Children's Books. It earned starred reviews in both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, was named a “Pick” by both the New York and the Chicago Public Libraries, and was the featured children’s book of North Carolina at the National Book Festival. The next book in the trilogy, Louisiana’s Song (2007) was equally well received, being named a Bank Street College Book of the Year and a finalist for several other awards. The third installment, Jessie’s Mountain, was published in 2008 to strong reviews. Most recently Madden published UpClose Harper Lee as part of Viking's UpClose Series and received a starred Kirkus for this biography. She has taught at the University of Tennessee, Ningbo University in China, UCLA, and elsewhere, and has visited schools across the country as a guest author. She has just accepted a new job at the University of Alabama in Birmingham as a professor of Creative Writing beginning the fall of 2009.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2010

    Maggie Vally

    yes Maggie Valley North Carolina is a real place duhh i live here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    Moments of poetry

    Madden's voice is so gentle and descriptive, it guides the reader into a world of simple mountain life, yet the clouds of change threaten. The reader always feels assured that the family, particularily Livy Two, the narrator, can figure out a way to survive, no matter what. The tenderness and caring are abundant in this story. A surprisingly sweet read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2006

    mountain story of love and family

    I really connected to the story and the characters in Livy Two's family, but I want to know what happens next to them! I felt like I knew this mountain family. I want to go visit Maggie Valley and find out if it's a real place.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    A Lovely Book

    I read this to my daughter who is seven. She loved it and so did I. This is a really special book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2005

    BEAUTIFUL STORY

    This is a simple but beautifully told story about a charming old world family. Kerry Madden creates wonderfully textured characters in Livy Two, her parents and her multiple siblings. Livy Two is adventurous and naughty enough for any child to adore. It's about hope, ambition and dreams. A lovely family to fall in love with and a refreshing world for youngsters to enter. Particularly good for girls sick of modern science fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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