Me and Rupert Goody

Me and Rupert Goody

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by Barbara O'Connor
     
 

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Learning to share love

Things at Jennalee's house are just plain crazy, which is why she loves her predictable days helping Uncle Beau (who isn't really her uncle) at his general store. But then Rupert Goody shows up, claiming to be Uncle Beau's son. Jennalee can't believe it, because Rupert is black and Uncle Beau is white. But Uncle Beau tells her it

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Overview

Learning to share love

Things at Jennalee's house are just plain crazy, which is why she loves her predictable days helping Uncle Beau (who isn't really her uncle) at his general store. But then Rupert Goody shows up, claiming to be Uncle Beau's son. Jennalee can't believe it, because Rupert is black and Uncle Beau is white. But Uncle Beau tells her it is true and incorporates Rupert into his life, ruining Jennalee's routine.

Although Rupert is slow, he is kind-hearted and tries hard to please. When more unforeseen events -- this time frightening ones -- further interrupt life at the store, Jennalee comes to see that Rupert Goody, odd though he may be, is certainly not the worst unexpected thing that could come along, and that he belongs with Uncle Beau as much as she does. With a vividly depicted setting, emotional truth, and a distinctly Southern voice, Barbara O'Connor shows that there is love enough to go around.

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
(Intermediate)
"Before Rupert Goody waltzed hisself into Claytonville, I nearly always knew how my days would start and how they'd end." Eleven-year-old Jennalee Helton spends most of her days with Uncle Beau Goody (not really her uncle), enjoying his friendship and helping out at his general store where she can count on her routine staying the same-unlike her chaotic life at home. But then one day Rupert Goody shows up at the store: he's the son Uncle Beau had with a black woman but whom he never knew existed. Rupert takes "the predictable out of things," and Jennalee stubbornly refuses to accept this stranger whom she fears will take her place in Uncle Beau's heart. Unable to tell Uncle Beau how threatened she feels, Jennalee directs her anger and resentment at kindhearted, mentally disabled Rupert, much to Uncle Beau's (and her own) disappointment. A sibling rivalry story of a different sort, this gracefully written novel deals with the basic needs for connection and understanding. Despite her sometimes dryly humorous bravado, Jennalee's honest narrative, rich with Southern cadences, juxtaposes her own struggle to make sense of her loneliness against her growing awareness that both Uncle Beau and Rupert have suffered loss. In addition to willful Jennalee, Rupert and Uncle Beau are well-rounded and dynamic characters, with Rupert providing much needed moments of lightness as well as the catalyst for some of the story's most emotionally wrenching scenes. A couple of near tragedies, including a fire that destroys the general store, are well integrated, using suspense to move the action forward and effectively engaging readers in the drama. k.f.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A reluctant heroine narrates this triumphant tale set in a contemporary North Carolina town where time seems to have stopped. Jennalee Helton lives in a chaotic household filled with so many siblings that she has to fight for a bed to sleep in ("My brothers are all the time saying the reason our family is named Helton is cause there's always a ton of hell going on"). Her only refuge is Uncle Beau's General Store, where her days begin with putting out the doughnuts and end with "buttoning up" (locking the doors) at night, and where Uncle Beau listens to her troubles and rewards her with PayDay candy bars. But when Rupert Goody comes to town claiming he's Uncle Beau's son, her world turns upside down. O'Connor (Beethoven in Paradise) orchestrates the dynamics of the trio with sensitivity and subtlety. Her small-town setting contributes to an atmosphere of a community frozen in time, with lazy afternoons spent trout fishing or sifting the riverbank for rubies, and everyone knows their neighbors on a first-name basis. But, through Jennalee's narration, readers also discover that the townsfolk raise a few eyebrows when African-American Rupert purports to be the son of a self-proclaimed "one hundred percent pure North Carolina paleface." Yet it's an insidious racist remark from one of those townspeople that causes Jennalee to rise to Rupert's defense and to realize how much he means to her. How this stubborn but winning protagonist travels from complete resentment to acceptance of her rival for Uncle Beau's affections is a journey readers won't want to miss. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jennalee had things the way she wanted them. She knew what to expect every day and though her home life was pretty terrible she had found a way to get around that. Jennalee had found herself another family in the old man who ran the local general store. Uncle Beau was no relation but he might as well have been. For Jennalee, Uncle Beau, his dog Jake, and the store itself were her family. When she wasn't at school she could be found at the store for there she could find the stability and routine that she craved. In the slow drawl of the North Carolina countryside the author has created a strange and poignant world for Jennalee, getting deep into the hearts and lives of the people who live in this part of the country. She clearly understands how small towns like Claytonville work and leads us through her sometimes-painful tale of love and acceptance. Jennalee loves and needs the General Store so much in fact that when Rupert Goody turns up claiming to be Uncle Beau's son she goes to pieces. She doesn't want to believe it and chooses to think that Rupert is an imposter. A gentle, somewhat slow black man, Rupert doesn't look like Uncle Beau at all and for Jennalee that is enough. She feels threatened, angry and jealous all at once and doesn't quite know what to do with all her feelings, lashing out at anyone who gets in her way, especially at Rupert, poor sweet Rupert. It is only when the very center of her love, Uncle Beau, is hurt, and especially later when the store burns down, that Jennalee discovers that Uncle Beau is right and that she and Rupert have something in common. Only then can she let the anger and jealousy go and find a new level of stability and happiness for herself. Aremarkable book. 2003 (orig. 1999), Farrar Straus and Giroux,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Escaping her boisterous household, Jennalee forges a special friendship with the owner of the local general store. When Rupert Goody appears and claims to be his son, the spirited girl fights for her place in Uncle Beau's establishment and in his affections. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466811744
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/24/2003
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
File size:
128 KB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara O'Connor was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and currently lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Her first novel was Beethoven in Paradise.


Barbara O’Connor is the author of numerous acclaimed books for children, including Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. She has been awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Kansas William Allen White Award, the South Carolina Children's Book Award, the Indiana Young Hoosier Award, the South Dakota Children's Book Award, and the Dolly Gray Award, among many honors. As a child, she loved dogs, salamanders, tap dancing, school, and even homework. Her favorite days were when the bookmobile came to town. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and now lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a historic seaside village not far from Plymouth Rock.

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Me and Rupert Goody 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is supposed to be spoken with a southern acicant so it is pretty but you can speak normaly if you want it just doesnt sound as good