Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this poignant adaptation of Holt's debut novel, actress Ivey's natural Southern twang goes down as smooth as "Momma's extra-sweet lemondade." Twelve-year-old Tiger Ann Parker finds herself going through some momentous changes in the summer following sixth grade. Though she fiercely loves and defends her parents--both of whom are mentally disabled, or "slow," as Tiger prefers--Tiger harbors guilt about sometimes feeling embarrassed by Momma and Daddy. She's also torn between playing baseball with her best pal, Jesse Wade, and sitting on the sidelines with the girls in pretty dresses. Luckily, she has her loving, pragmatic Granny at home to help her sort through the confusion. But when Granny suddenly dies from a snake bite, Tiger's world turns upside down. In the weeks following Granny's death, Tiger discovers how truly special her parents are and that she could never leave them or their tiny rural hometown of Saitter, La. Set in the 1950s, Holt's story evokes an era on the cusp of technological and social change, when life was mostly simple, though larger problems like racial inequality loomed. Ivey portrays Tiger with the perfect mix of innocence and a sense of blossoming wisdom. Ivey's other characterizations call on a range of colorful, though never overly affected, Southern cadences and inflections. Ages 9-up. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Tiger wonders why she's so different from her parents, why she can get all A's in school when her mother is sweet, but childlike, and her father is considered retarded. Luckily, she has her Granny to hold the odd household together-until Granny dies. Tiger faces discrimination from her classmates and even considers accepting her "normal" aunt's offer to move in with her in Baton Rouge. How she comes to terms with her backcountry family and the world of the nineteen-fifties is the meat of this delicately written book.
VOYA - Lynn Evarts
At twelve, Tiger Parker is not unusual in her desire to become independent from her parents, who have suddenly begun to embarrass her more than they have in the past: Tiger's parents are what she calls "slow." When she was younger, Tiger used to delight in the fact that her mother would play games with her with the same childlike enthusiasm as her friends. Now that she is almost in seventh grade, however, Tiger's mother has become more and more of an embarrassment. Tiger loves her mother, but she also keenly feels the stares of her classmates when her mother does not behave like all the other mothers. In the past, Tiger had relied upon her grandmother to listen and provide guidance through tough times, but when suddenly her grandmother is gone, Tiger is left to make adult decisions by herself. With the help of Hurricane Audrey, Tiger learns how strong she is and where she truly belongs. Young readers will empathize with Tiger's embarrassment and her desire to escape to the big city where her Aunt Doreen, so different from her own mother, lives the glamourous life of a career girl in Earl Long's Baton Rouge. Holt provides us with a lyrical story about loyalty and family in the tradition of Jean Thesman's The Rain Catchers (Houghton, 1991/VOYA October 1991), in this tender look at a young girl's coming of age set in the tumultuous times of the 1950s South that will draw readers in with its poignancy and honesty. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
This debut novel won much acclaim when it was published, and has appeared on many lists including the ALA Best Books for Young Adults. It tells of a twelve-year-old girl whose parents are mentally handicappedthe three of them live with Tiger Ann's grandmother, capable and nurturing, in rural Louisiana. Tiger Ann's aunt lives in Baton Rouge, and when the grandmother dies, this aunt offers Tiger Ann a chance to start a new life with her in the city. A chance to get away from the shame of having "different" parents, to find new friends who won't associate her with them, to have access to all the conveniences of life in townthese are powerful attractions. I read a book with the same basic premise last year, Han Nolan's A Face in Every Window, which is far more complex and ultimately more satisfying. In contrast, this is for the youngest of the YA readers. Its strength is in the description of that Louisiana land Tiger lives on, the community, her family, her feelings. Readers whose "normal" parents embarrass them constantly will surely relate to how Tiger feels about her "different" parents. (Editor's Note: See also audiobook review of this title in this issue.) KLIATT Codes: J*Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Random House/Dell/Yearling, 200p, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-9-Set in the South in the late 1950s, this coming-of-age story explores a 12-year-old girl's struggle to accept her grandmother's death, her mentally deficient parents, and the changing world around her. By Kimberly Willis Holt. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Midwest Book Review
Kimberly Willis Holt's My Louisiana Sky is an involving leisure read for teens. Spunky Tiger Ann is bright in school but is always teased about her parents, who are mentally slow. The entire family is cared for by a live-in grandmother: when she dies unexpectedly, it seems up to Tiger to hold her family together. Strong characterization drives this realistic story.
Horn Book Magazine
For eleven-year-old Tiger Ann Parker, Saitter, Louisiana, is not only the place where she has lived her whole life with Momma and Daddy and Granny, but also a place where some people think that her "Momma and Daddy should have never been allowed to get married because they're different"-or "retarded." Momma giggles and coos in front of the new rabbit-eared television from morning 'til night ("It's Howdy Doody time...") and Daddy can't even do simple math. Granny, the backbone of the household and an integral source of strength for Tiger, tells her, "People are afraid of what's different. That don't mean different is bad. Just means different is different." But for Tiger, "different" has become just plain embarrassing. Why can't her parents be more like Aunt Dorie Kay, Momma's younger sister, who wears high-heels and make-up and has a fancy job in Baton Rouge? When the death of her grandmother presents Tiger with the opportunity to move with Dorie Kay to Baton Rouge, even in her grief she can hardly leave Saitter fast enough. But after cutting her hair . la Audrey Hepburn and going by "Ann" for a while, Tiger begins to see the ways of her parents that, while not glamorous or book-smart, root her to home and to herself. Holt's languid storytelling style is as unhurried as a Louisiana summer, a soft steady breeze turning the pages. She exercises unusual restraint for a first-time novelist as she eases the action along with a low-key, unpretentious plot, never resorting to over-dramatization or sentimentality in developing her uncannily credible characters. So honest is Holt's portrayal of Tiger, Momma, Daddy, Granny, and the rest that one wonders if she wrote their story while sitting in a rocker on a Saitter front porch, under the vast promises of a Louisiana sky.
In her first YA novel, Holt gives a fresh theme sensitive and deliberate treatment: The bright child of "slow" parents comes to terms with her family's place in the community. Tiger Ann Parker is smart; she's gotten straight A's and won the spelling bee five years in a row. People in her rural 1950s Louisiana community can't figure out where she got her brains, because everyone knows that her parents, are mentally challenged. Her mother has the capabilities of a six-year-old, while her father, a good steady worker at the nursery down the road, can't manage writing or simple math. Tiger loves her parents, but as she enters middle school she becomes increasingly aware that she's socially ostracized by her classmates; her affection for her family becomes mixed with shame and anger at their differences. When Tiger's loving grandmother, who has always run the household, has a fatal heart attack, Tiger is invited to live with her glamorous Aunt Doreen in Baton Rouge. Tempted to move away and reinvent herself, Tiger ultimately comes to appreciate her parents' strengths and her own as well. Tiger, with her warring feelings, is a believable and likable narrator, and while the offerings of big-city living are too patly rejected, a well-developed setting and fully-realized characters make this an unusually strong coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
“This lyrical first novel brings fresh perspective to the guilt and anger and caring that surround the mentally disabled. All the characters . . . are drawn with warmth but no patronizing reverence.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“So honest is Holt’s portrayal of Tiger, Momma, Daddy, Granny, and the rest that one wonders if she wrote their story while sitting in a rocker on a Saitter front porch, under the vast promises of a Louisiana Sky.”—The Horn Book, Starred Review
“An unusually auspicious debut.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
An ALA Notable Book for Children
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor for Fiction
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
One of Booklist’s Top Ten First Novels of the Year
A VOYA Outstanding Title of the Year
A Parenting Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Book Links “Book for Lasting Connections”
starred review Booklist
This lyrical first novel brings fresh perspective to the guilt and anger and caring that surround the mentally disabled. All the characters ... are drawn with warmth but no patronizing reverence.
Starred Review Booklist
This lyrical first novel brings fresh perspective to the guilt and anger and caring that surround the mentally disabled. All the characters . . . are drawn with warmth but no patronizing reverence.
Starred Review The Horn Book
So honest is Holt's portrayal of Tiger, Momma, Daddy, Granny, and the rest that one wonders if she wrote their story while sitting in a rocker on a Saitter front porch, under the vast promises of a Louisiana Sky.