The Rising Star of Rusty Nail

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail

4.7 12
by Lesley M. M. Blume
     
 

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“A story that is as rich as it is delicious.”—Booklist, Starred

Franny Hansen is a 10-year-old piano prodigy living in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Once the Coot Capitol of the world, in 1953 it's just a run-of-the-mill town with one traffic light and a bizarre cast of characters. She's long exhausted the talents of the town's

Overview

“A story that is as rich as it is delicious.”—Booklist, Starred

Franny Hansen is a 10-year-old piano prodigy living in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Once the Coot Capitol of the world, in 1953 it's just a run-of-the-mill town with one traffic light and a bizarre cast of characters. She's long exhausted the talents of the town's only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies, until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in Rusty Nail. Franny's neighbors are convinced the "Commie" is a threat to their American way of life, but Franny's not so sure. Could this stranger be her ticket out of Rusty Nail?

Lesley M. M. Blume returns with the poignant and laugh-out-loud funny story of one girl's attempt to pursue the American dream in small town America.

“Blume has skillfully combined humor, history, and music to create an enjoyable novel that builds to a surprising crescendo.”—School Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
★ “A story that is as rich as it is delicious.”—Booklist, Starred

“Blume has skillfully combined humor, history, and music to create an enjoyable novel that builds to a surprising crescendo.”—School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
In 1953, nothing much is happening in Rusty Nail, Minnesota, a town with "only one of everything: one grocery store, one church, one lawyer, one doctor, one bar, even one old drunk." But Rusty Nail has not one but two ambitious young pianists: ten-year-old Franny Hansen and her "official Number One Class-A Enemy," spoiled, rich, "infinitely hateable" Nancy Orilee. So when the dazzling Russian pianist Madame Malenkov arrives in town, Franny is bound and determined to beg and bribe her into piano lessons, in spite of all of the church lady gossip that the mysterious Russian is in fact a Commie spy. Franny is crushed when Madame Malenkov begins teaching Nancy, too, leading to a decisive confrontation between the two girls at a regional piano competition. Franny and her best friend Sandy are formidable adversaries for the truly bratty Nancy, whether pelting her with water balloons or plotting to squirt ketchup on her snow-white fairy Halloween costume. In fact, the story reads merrily along on the sheer momentum of Franny's ambition and Sandy's spite. While the outcome of the piano competition itself seems highly implausible and Franny is never fully convincing as a piano prodigy, readers should have no trouble rooting for Franny all the way and condemning the Cold War prejudices of this cliched but appealing Midwestern small town.
VOYA - Ann T. Reddy-Damon
Francis Hansen and her arch rival, Nancy Orilee, are slated to play the piano for a visiting dignitary. This news is big for the small Minnesota town of Rusty Nail in 1953, a place with only one of everything including grocery, church, bar, and stoplight. Although Nancy's father will pay for anything, including out-of-town lessons, Frances must settle for lusterless Mrs. Staudt, who has trouble staying awake during the lessons. In this town and tale that is structured in three movements like a piano concerto, only one star can shine. The Moderato sets the competition between the girls. The Adagio raises the tension by bringing in a Russian concert pianist. Frances cajoles her way into scant lessons from Olga Malenkov only to learn that Nancy is being tutored as well. Because it is the McCarthy era, the mystery surrounding the newcomer threatens to divide the town. The Allegro brings an exciting conclusion to the rivalry. The characterization of Frances and Olga are full-full of doubts, excitement, and anxieties. The language is mostly fresh and engaging for carrying the plot; however, many secondary characters are little more than placards, predictable and stilted. The mayor's dialect is corny, and the mother's inability to cook or iron is cartoonish. Recommend this book to music lovers as well as to anyone searching for a McCarthy-era novel.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6
Rusty Nail, MN, in 1953 is the backdrop for the mischievous, sometimes hilarious, antics of Franny Hansen and her best friend, Sandy Hellickson. In addition to being rambunctious and fun loving, the 10-year-old is a piano prodigy whose talents risk being wasted by the limited ability of the town's only piano teacher. Enter Olga Malenkov, a mysterious Russian, seemingly the wife of a big-city lawyer who is a former native son of Rusty Nail. The psychology of the McCarthy period spurs the townspeople to gossip and to decide that the stranger is a Communist spy. Franny's mother offers the voice of reason to balance the hysteria and paranoia rampant at the time. When the girls decide to do some spying of their own, Franny discovers that the newcomer plays the piano beautifully. She bargains her way to lessons, and the extent of her talent is discovered. Add to the mix Franny's piano rival-a stereotypically conceited, spoiled, bratty youngster-and a high-stakes competition, and the tension escalates. Blume has skillfully combined humor, history, and music to create an enjoyable novel that builds to a surprising crescendo.
—Renee SteinbergCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Being a budding classical musician in small town Minnesota during the 1950s doesn't stop Franny from throwing water balloons and causing trouble-especially for Nancy Orilee, whose aggravating bragging about her hoity-toity ways includes competition for top pianist honors. When town lawyer Charlie Koenig brings his new Russian wife home, the whole town is in an uproar, thinking that Olga is a spy. However, Franny discovers the "Commie" is a famous musician with a collection of instruments, including a grand piano. Finagling some lessons requires trickery, but Franny is determined in spite of small-town McCarthyism and Olga's own cantankerousness. Shenanigans abound with Franny's best friend Sandy, and yet there is no doubt of her dedication to becoming a great pianist. Blume's folksy tone somewhat undermines the high tone in regards to the music, but those who love a heroine with gumption struggling with injustice will enjoy the ride. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440421115
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
06/23/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,184,378
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Lesley M. M. Blume is the author of Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters and Tennyson. She lives in New York City.

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Rising Star of Rusty Nail 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book! At first was only reading it for school, but I actually ended up really liking it. She is a great author and I recommend reading this book if you like those kinds of books where its like misfortune, misfortune, happy ending. It has a good twist at the end as well as some historyish information throughout. Greak book! -A
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so amazing to me because I am the same age and have been playing piano for the same amount of years as Franny. I think it was because Franny is a girl who follows her dreams. I hope someday that something like that will ever happen to me because I absolutely love playing the piano. In the first part I thought it was awesome that Franny got to play against her biggest rival Nancy Orilee. Olga Malenkov was very inspirational because she had had such a rough life but still did so much forFranny. To me this book was very sad and happy at the same time. It was sad because at the end when Olga tells Franny what has been happening in her life
Lindsay Peifer More than 1 year ago
Finished it. Loved it. I could relate to this book very well. A young girl like me, with a dream.
Emily Green More than 1 year ago
LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!! It really shows that you can have talant were ever you are and to never give up on something you love. Even though people may stand in your way don't let them stop you from trying.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Lesley M. M. Blume sweeps readers back to another time with her newest book --- back to a time when a school principal chain-smokes in his office and everyone fears bombing attacks from the Russians. But one thing is still the same --- a young person¿s ambition to succeed at her dream. Blume expertly opens up spirited Franny¿s heart and mind to readers so they can share her dream, and perhaps they will be inspired to venture out to discover their own dreams. --- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman, author of FINDING MY LIGHT and THE BLACK POND
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey ts lol again im almost done with te vook since yesterday and this relates to me because i have a dream to be big a big dancer or a big singer or musician a im not giving up and im good and th book kinda shows this i wanted to not read it but i read up to page 5 and i couldnt put it down yesterday i wyas on page like ten and im on oe hindred its really good and dont stop readin it its a wonderfu story