The Mighty Miss Malone

( 65 )

Overview

"We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother

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Overview

"We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Even ardent fans of Curtis’s Newbery winner, Bud, Not Buddy, may not remember Deza Malone, who shares dishwashing duties with Bud Caldwell during his brief stay at a Hooverville in Flint, Mich. Responding to readers’ pleas that he write a book with a female main character, Curtis traces the path that led Deza’s family to homelessness. It’s 1936 in Gary, Ind., and the Great Depression has put 12-year-old Deza’s father out of work. After a near-death experience trying to catch fish for dinner, Roscoe Malone leaves for Flint, hoping he’ll find work. But Deza’s mother loses her job shortly after, putting all the Malones out on the street. As in his previous books, Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative, using the Joe Louis–Max Schmeling fight to expose the racism prevalent even among people like the librarian who tells Deza that Louis is “such a credit to your race.” Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book of 2012

Kirkus Reviews Best Teen's Book of 2012

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
“Deza is one great heroine in her own right, a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011:
“Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.”

Kirkus Reviews
Deza Malone had a brief appearance in Curtis' multiple–award-winning novel, Bud, Not Buddy (Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Author Award, 2000). Now, she is the dynamic and engaging heroine of her own story. Deza takes great pride in being the best student in school and the champion of her musically gifted but challenged older brother. Although the Malones are barely surviving the Depression in Gary, Ind., Deza has a strong sense of self and hope for a better life. As she writes in her school essay, "We are the only family in the world, in my ken, that has a motto of our own! That motto is ‘We are a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful.' I can't wait until we get there!" Despite severe economic and racial restrictions, the strength of their familial bond remains strong, but even that connection is sorely tested when Mr. Malone returns to his hometown of Flint, Mich., seeking work. Deza, her brother Jimmie and their mother set out to find him as their situation becomes dire. With his distinctive style of storytelling that seamlessly presents the hardships and finds the humor in tough circumstances, Curtis forges the link between characters and readers. The fluidity of the writing, the strong sense of place and time combined with well-drawn characters will captivate and delight. Deza is one great heroine in her own right, a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell. (Historical fiction. 9-12)
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
The Malone family is a loving, caring family that vows to stick together and travel to a place called Wonderful. Yet, the Great Depression is making that difficult, especially for a black family in Gary, Indiana, in 1936. Twelveyear-old Deza and her fifteen-year-old brother Jimmie attend school where many teachers are prejudiced. Jimmie has an angelic singing voice but is often bullied because of his small stature. Mr. Malone has been out of work for months and the family barely survives on the poor quality food they manage to find. In spite of the problems, optimism reigns in the Malone household until the day Mr. Malone disappears in a fishing accident on Lake Michigan. Life is never the same. Although he is found weeks later, he is a changed man unable to even look for work. Deza's life spirals out of control as the family is forced to leave Gary and travel to Flint, Michigan where they must live in a shantytown for months. In this novel, Curtis presents a heartbreaking story of the lives of regular black families during the Great Depression. Even with the sadness, Deza's determination to keep her family together presents an inspiring story. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
Children's Literature - Pat Trattles
Twelve-year-old Deza Malone lives in Gary, Indiana during the height of the Great Depression. She is by far the smartest student in her class and takes great pride in that fact. Deza lives with her mother and father and older brother, Jimmie, who has a knack for getting into mischief, and although he has a bit of the devil in him, sings like an angel. Life is tough for the Malone family. Mr. Malone cannot find work and the little money Mrs. Malone can bring home working as a housekeeper for a rich white family is barely enough to make ends meet. Still, Deza is optimistic and full of hope; embracing the Malone family motto, "We are a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful." Then Mr. Malone leaves home to try to find work in Flint, Michigan. When he fails to keep in touch with them, Deza, Jimmie and their mother set out to find him. Crammed into a crowded boxcar they head north where they are forced to live in a makeshift hut in a camp on the outskirts of Flint, Michigan. Life in Flint is tougher than it was in Gary and the Malone family faces many challenges, racially as well as financially as they try to bring the family back together again. Although Curtis has not skimped in presenting the hardships of the Depression in heart-wrenching detail, he also has created a heroine in Deza who is plucky, at times comical, and always resilient when facing even the harshest realities of her meager existence. An absorbing read with a strong sense of history and place and outstanding characterization, Deza's story is a must read for today's young readers and is sure to be another award winner for its author. Reviewer: Pat Trattles
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In 1936 Gary, IN, 12-year-old Deza Malone is an outstanding student and beloved daughter in an African American family challenged by economic hardship. Her mother's job as a domestic allows them to just get by, but leaves them unable to address Deza's rotting teeth and older brother Jimmie's stunted growth. When her father seeks work in Michigan and fails to keep in touch with them, Mother packs them up to go and find him. Their journey takes them to a Hooverville camp where Jimmie's beautiful singing voice is discovered by an itinerant musician who convinces him to strike out on his own. Mother and Deza try to make a life for themselves in Flint but are discouraged by poverty and discrimination and their inability to find Father. When Deza hears that Jimmie is making it big in Detroit, she sets out to find him, starting a chain of events that lead to a hopeful yet heartbreaking conclusion. The strength of this companion to Bud, Not Buddy (Delacorte, 1999) is its vivid characterization and clear sense of place and time. Deza is an appealing, indomitable heroine whose narrative voice reflects both wit and pathos. Period details are skillfully woven into the story with the Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling fight playing an important role in underscoring the sense of defeat for African Americans as they struggle with the Depression. Careful readers may be mystified by the discrepancies between Buddy's account of meeting Deza and Deza's, and they might wish for a more comforting resolution, but Curtis does not sugarcoat reality and focuses instead on the resilience of a memorable character. An absorbing read.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385734912
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 232,339
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS is the bestselling author of Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Medal, among many other honors. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, was also singled out for many awards, among them a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Journey to Wonderful

“Once upon a time . . .”

If I could get away with it, that’s how I’d begin every essay I write.

Those are the four best words to use when you start telling about yourself because anything that begins that way always, always finishes with another four words, “. . . they lived happily everafter.”

And that’s a good ending for any story.

I shut my dictionary and thesaurus and went back over my essay for the last time.

The best teacher in the world, Mrs. Karen Needham, had given us a assignment to write about our families. I knew, just like always, she was going to love mine. She’d only asked for two pages but this was our last essay for the year, so I wrote six.

Once upon a time . . . in Gary, Indiana, lived a family of three very special, very happy and uniquely talented people. I am the fourth member of that family and much too modest to include myself in such a grandiose description of their exalted number. But many people say I am of the same ilk and for that I remain internally grateful.

My mother, Mrs. Margaret “Peggy” Sutphen Malone, was born here in Gary, Indiana. She is willowy and radiant and spell-blindingly beautiful. She is also very intelligent. She has a great job cleaning for the Carsdale family. Yes, that Carsdale family! The family whose patriarch is the president of the Gary Citizens’ Bank.

Her most endearing trait is that she is the glue holding this family together.

“Deza?”

I jumped and my pencil flew out of my hand.

When I’m writing or reading a book, everything else around me disappears. Father says it’s because I’ve settled into what I’m doing, the same way my brother Jimmie does when he’s singing.

“Jimmie! I told you not to sneak up on me like that when I’m writing!”

He handed me the pencil. “I couldn’t help it, sis, you were so far gone. What’re you writing?”

“My last essay for Mrs. Needham.”

“You know, a lot of people are saying her not coming back to teach is the best thing that ever happened at Lincoln Woods School.”

“James Malone, if I ever give one-half a hoot what a lot of people are saying, you have my permission to slap me silly. Mrs. Needham is the best teacher in the world. Now, if you don’t mind. I never bother you when you’re singing, don’t bother me when I’m writing.”

“But lots of people love listening to me sing, Deza, seems to me like only you, that little pest Clarice Anne Johnson and Mrs. Needham like reading what you write.”

Jimmie is one of those people who can say something that might sound mean at first, but when he smiles and makes his eyebrows jump up and down you can’t help smiling. He gets this deep, deep dimple in his right cheek and you end up laughing right along with him.

My dearest friend, Clarice Anne Johnson, has a horrible and completely un-understandable crush on Jimmie. She says she bets you could pour cornflakes in his dimple and eat them out with a spoon.

I’m hoping Clarice’s taste in boys improves as she gets older.

“Jimmie, please.”

“Sorry, sis. I’m heading out, can I do anything for you before I split?”

“No, thanks. Just make sure you’re back for supper.”

I looked at Mrs. Needham’s instructions again. “What is the most annoying trait of some of your family members?”

That was easy to come up with for Father and Jimmie, but I couldn’t think of a single annoying trait for Mother. I wrote:

Mother’s pet peeve is that she hates the way a lot of people are mean to Jimmie for no reason.

Her dreams are to see Father get a job where he doesn’t always get laid off, for Jimmie to start growing again and be happy and to watch me graduate from college and be a teacher.

My father, Mr. Roscoe Malone, was born in a village in Michigan called Flint, which is geologically located 250 miles northeast of Gary. For some reason that none of us can understand he is very proud of this. He is tall and strikingly handsome, he’s also intelligent and well-read.

He toils and labors mostly for the Company doing work in a horribly hot furnace and sometimes being a janitor.

His most annoying trait is the way he uses alliteration every chance he has.

I looked up from my paper. That is so true, but I wondered for a minute if I should put it in the essay. It isn’t like he can help himself.

He always calls me his Darling Daughter Deza, and I’m supposed to answer that he is my Dearest Delightful Daddy. He calls Jimmie the Genuine, Gentle Jumpin’ Giant, and Jimmie’s supposed to call him his Fine Friendly Father Figure. Father also calls Mother the Marvelous Mammalian Matriarch, but she says she won’t respond because she refuses to play silly word games with such a “hardheaded husband who hasn’t heard how horrible he is.”

Mother told me, “Such nonsense is in the blood of the Malones and you should be happy that so far it looks like you haven’t inherited any of it.”

She says Jimmie is a different story.

I tapped the pencil on my teeth. I know it’s rude and disloyal to discuss family business with other people, but Mrs. Needham says good writing is always about telling the truth.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(41)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Delightful Deza.

    *Enjoyable leisure time/silent sustained reading time novel. *The concept of the "bad brain" was well-developed and fascinating. Deza and her family offer the readers a great "journey" back in time to the era of the Great Depression in the United States of America and how that time impacted on individual families. As a reader you should be able to "enter" Deza's world by way of your imagination with all of the details the author gives and "see" the world as the protagonist does. Also, you should feel a range of emotions as you read Deza's story. *A quality piece of fiction.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    So powerful!!!!

    I absolutly loved this book! It was so inspiring to read the struggles of The Mighty Miss Malone. The pain that she must have suffered!!! I don't understand how she could stand it all! Iwould definetly recommend this delightful book!!!!!!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent book

    This book has everything, values, educational example and dealing with peers. If you enjoyed this book, I highly recommend The Two Clever series by Julia E. Antoine.

    8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Amazing!

    It was a great book, and it was a very moving story!! :)

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    Awsome

    When i was in class my teacher told me about this book and it sounded interesting. In this book its about a family planing a trip to wonderfull but when her dad leaves he never comes back and the same with her brother when he goes and looks for him and i was trying ro do this whithout giving the book away. The age group for this book whould be 10- 12 because their is some bad parts. I liked this book because thier is alot of action and mystery. I hope u like this book. Just a little to exspensive. HAPPY READING

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    QUESTION!!!!!

    I'll most likely get this but i want to know do they mention Bud-not-buddy(get it)? Please answer

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Great story! 

    Great story! 

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Anon

    Another great accomplishment by Mr. Curtis! I hope that The Mighty Miss Malone becomes a perminent required reading for 5-7th grades.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Wow

    This was the best book I pesonally have ever read by far!!!¿

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    I bought the book and i can really relate to it.

    The relation to me and her is unbelievable. I didnt know a book could touch u like that.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Linked

    Miss Deza is also from Bud Not Buddy.. (Deza is the first girl Buddy " shared slobber" with. Both books are very wonderful, and create powerful emotions from readers

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Not good

    Not worth the $11

    2 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Blast From the past!

    This is a great story that let's children know what hardship many colored people went through and it reminds us of what we did. I can never put this book down no matter how many times I read it! This book is full of laughs and tears. I recommend this book from ages ten and up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Cool

    Never read it but it sounds great!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    Loved it!

    It is a great book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    An JccdddhddhxxgxkxfhwsxyncyhhybgcvYhbxyvjxybvhccfvcvryvecyxuvbyvv hehv

    Best book ever

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Amazing

    We had to read this book in class and it was awesome. If you are african amaerican this book is really touching. Before you read any other book,YOU NEED TO READ THIS ONE

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Best book ever!!!!!!!!!

    I totally adore this book!!!!!!!! It was full adventure and it really inspried me!!!! This book is a musr read!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Question!

    Is it worth getting? It sounds super good and it is what i am looking for, but is it worth the money becuase it is pretty exspensive! Some one answer please?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Nice

    Good so far

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews

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