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My Mountain Song

Overview

In this tender, lyrical story set in the mountains of Kentucky, Brenda Gail is spending the summer with her great-grandparents. Gran Pap tells her that "everybody born in the mountains got a song inside 'em," made of memories. That means Brenda Gail has one, too, "just waitin' to come out." A squabble with her troublesome cousin Melvin, in which Big Ma's favorite hen is injured, and their reconciliation help Brenda Gail start to choose the moments that will be in her song.

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Overview

In this tender, lyrical story set in the mountains of Kentucky, Brenda Gail is spending the summer with her great-grandparents. Gran Pap tells her that "everybody born in the mountains got a song inside 'em," made of memories. That means Brenda Gail has one, too, "just waitin' to come out." A squabble with her troublesome cousin Melvin, in which Big Ma's favorite hen is injured, and their reconciliation help Brenda Gail start to choose the moments that will be in her song.

Rich, poignant art from esteemed illustrator Ted Rand is paired with an atmospheric text written by a true storyteller. Kids everywhere will want to make up their own "mountain songs."

One summer day on her great-grandparents' Kentucky farm, a squabble with her cousin Melvin spurs Brenda Gail to begin choosing the moments that will become her own special song made of memories.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Family, feelings and life on the farm make pleasant music together as the themes in Crum's (Spitting Image) debut picture book. When middle child Brenda Gail gets to spend the summer, all by herself, on her great-grandparents' mountain homestead, her days brim with the hum of the country-roosters crowing, dogs barking, a screen door that "swishes open and snaps closed," and Gran Pap's special mountain song. Gran Pap explains that everyone 'round those parts-even Brenda Gail-has their own song, full of good memories and "things you like about the mountains." But Brenda Gail's thoughts of composing her own tune come to a screeching halt when her pesky cousin Melvin arrives on the scene. Bickering and tussling ensue, resulting in the accidental injury of one of the family's prized hens. This wake-up call inspires healing, reflection and good fodder for a song. Crum hits some sweet notes while portraying believable childhood emotions and warm intergenerational relationships. Rand's (The Memory String) bucolic watercolor scenery includes elegantly plumed fowl, a comfy wooden porch and, fittingly, some sweeping vistas of purple mountain majesties. Ages 5-8. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Brenda Gail learns about the mountain songs that everybody born in the mountains has inside when she spends her first summer all by herself on her great-grandparents' farm. Gran Pop says she will find her own song thinking about her good memories. But as she is collecting them, she is annoyed by her pesky cousin Melvin. He makes her so angry that she throws dirt and stones at him, accidentally hitting Big Ma's favorite hen. She feels terrible, but fortunately the hen recovers and she even gets an apology from Melvin. As evening falls, Brenda Gail adds other good memories to her song. The sense of life on the farm portrayed by the text is greatly enriched by Rand's deftly painted double-page watercolors, which evoke a sentiment we can only hope still exists in this time of globalized technology. The actors on this appealing stage are genuine people whose actions display real emotions. The naturalistic settings and details contribute significantly to the flow of the narrative. Morning Glory, the hen, is a glamorous character whose presence adds dramatic color. 2004, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-"In the mountains down south, morning is musical." Young Brenda Gail revels in sounds, from the rooster's cry to the screen door's swish, but nothing pleases her more than discovering her Gran Pap humming his special mountain song. He informs her that everyone born in the mountains has a song in them, and Brenda Gail can create her own tune with her favorite memories. As she goes through the day, she gathers, much as she does eggs, ideas to add to her own melody. She includes her great-grandparents along with her favorite animals and activities, but draws the line at her annoying cousin Melvin-there is no way that he will be part of her composition. A near tragedy softens her resolve, and she learns that the best songs (and families) encompass a variety of emotions. Crum's lyrical words work well with Rand's fluid watercolors. With their soft impressionistic look, the full-bleed illustrations, executed in faded browns and grays with touches of pastel hues, have a timeless quality that elicits a feeling of nostalgia. Together, author and illustrator have created a delight for the senses that harmonizes the coziness of a close-knit family with the gentle ambience of old-fashioned farm life.-Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pleasant but bland watercolors don't provide enough nuance for this double-themed plot. Brenda Gail is spending the summer on her grandparents' mountain farm. Beloved Gran Pap sings a tune one morning, prompting a conversation about how everyone who's born in the mountains has their own "mountain song" made up of their favorite memories like a quilt. Brenda Gail wants to work on figuring out her own mountain song, but frustration at cousin Melvin makes her throw rocks at him-accidentally hitting and injuring Big Ma's favorite egg-laying hen. The hen recovers, but Brenda Gail's guilt and punishment overshadow the mountain song idea and turn the story moralistic. Text length and complexity, especially about the abstract and intriguing mountain song, are out of proportion with the pictures, which don't merit more than a quick look. (Picture book. 4-6)
From the Publisher
"Written in folksy language, the tender story is beautifully illustrated with soft watercolor paintings" BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"Crum hits some sweet notes while portraying believeable childhood emotions and warm intergenerational relationships." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Publishers Weekly

"A delight...that harmonizes the coziness of a close-knit family with the gentle ambiance of old-fashioned farm life." SLJ School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402599439
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/25/2006

Meet the Author

The late TED RAND was the esteemed illustrator of many picture books, including Eve Bunting's Secret Place and The Memory String.

Shutta Crum, formerly a librarian, is still an author and storyteller. She was born in Paintsville, Kentucky, and now lives with her husband in Michigan. Her website is www.shutta.com.

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