Truth with a Capital T

Truth with a Capital T

5.0 1
by Bethany Hegedus

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Lots of families have secrets. Little-Known Fact: My family has an antebellum house with a locked wing—and I’ve got a secret of my own.
I thought getting kicked out of the Gifted & Talented program—or not being “pegged,” as Mama said—­was the worst thing that could happen to me. W-r-o-n-g, wrong.
I arrived


Lots of families have secrets. Little-Known Fact: My family has an antebellum house with a locked wing—and I’ve got a secret of my own.
I thought getting kicked out of the Gifted & Talented program—or not being “pegged,” as Mama said—­was the worst thing that could happen to me. W-r-o-n-g, wrong.
I arrived in Tweedle, Georgia, to spend the summer with Granny and Gramps, only to find no sign of them. When they finally showed up, Cousin Isaac was there too, with his trumpet in hand, and I found myself having to pretend to be thrilled about watching my musical family rehearse for the town's Anniversary Spectacular. It was h-a-r-d, hard. Meanwhile, I, Maebelle T.-for-No-Talent Earl, set out to win a blue ribbon with an old family recipe.
But what was harder and even more wrong than any of that was breaking into the locked wing of my grandparents’ house, trying to learn the Truth with a capital T about Josiah T. Eberlee, my long-gone-but-not-forgotten relation. To succeed, I couldn't be a solo act. I’d need my new friends, a basset hound named Cotton, the strength of my entire family, and a little help from a secret code.
With grace and humor and a heaping helping of little-known facts, Bethany Hegedus incorporates the passions of the North and the South and bridges the past and the present in this story about one summer in the life of a sassy Southern girl and her trumpet-playing adopted Northern cousin.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Eleven-year-old Maebelle is excited about spending the summer in rural Georgia with her grandparents, who are country music singers, until she discovers that her adopted African-American cousin, Isaac, who is a 10-year-old trumpet prodigy, has also been invited. Maebelle's grandparents have inherited a home from an eccentric aunt who locked one wing of the house to hide a family secret. Maebelle desperately wants to uncover the mystery but is strictly forbidden to enter the area. The story begins slowly as the cousins vie for their grandparents' attention and play with friends and neighbors. The last few chapters reveal the secret, which is connected to the original owners of the house, their slaves, and the Underground Railroad. The real story isn't so much the mystery but the two very different cousins learning to get along and appreciate one another. The children are fairly well developed, and the grandparents are believable. However, the author has tried to make the characters sound Southern in their speech, but has done it in a way that detracts from the story rather than enhancing it.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
When eleven-year-old Maebelle T. Eberlee gets off the bus in Tweedle, Georgia, she expects to spend her summer vacation alone with her grandparents, who have recently retired as traveling musicians to an old mansion they inherited from Granps' reclusive Aunt Edith. But Maebelle is surprised to learn that she will be sharing her vacation and her grandparents with her newly adopted African-American cousin, Isaak, a trumpet prodigy. Isaak recently lost his mother, and Mabel feels inadequate and a little jealous; she is not musically talented like her grandparents and Isaak; she is not a brilliant therapist like her traveling parents; and she was recently kicked out of the Gifted and Talented program at her school. Plus, Isaak seems to be more special to her grandparents than Maebelle herself. When she learns that the town of Tweedle is having a town-wide Anniversary Spectacular that includes contests and blue ribbon awards, Maebelle decides that this is her chance to be the best at something. Meanwhile, there are mysteries aplenty surrounding the Eberlee family homestead. Gramps' eccentric Aunt Edith stipulated in her will that no one should enter the west wing of the house because of an unmentioned family tragedy, but Maebelle cannot help herself. She is determined to find out the secrets of the Eberlee family past. The local librarian is convinced that Maebelle's home was a stop on the Underground Railroad, so Maebelle sneaks into the west wing and uncovers family secrets that are both upsetting and healing for both her family and the town. This novel does an excellent job exploring the dynamics of blended families and issues of race in a small town while sensitively addressing common adolescent themes of growing up, fitting in, and feeling special. Some of the dialogue is clunky, but the plot moves along well and the characters Maebelle and Isaak are especially charming. Recommended for readers ages eight to twelve. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
Kirkus Reviews

Sharing her Tweedle, Ga., grandparents with her newly adopted and only slightly younger Northern—and African-American—cousin is not what Caucasian narrator Maebelle had in mind for her summer. She's still a bit ego-bruised from knowing that she'll start middle school in a regular—not gifted-and-talented—class, and Isaac's extraordinary competence on the jazz trumpet is hard to take. While Isaac and their musical grandparents plan a performance for the town's Anniversary Spectacular, Maebelle grapples with her mixed feelings of protectiveness and resentment toward Isaac. A mystery about the closed-off wing in her grandparents' inherited plantation mansion grabs her attention—one of the town's most prominent 19th-century citizens seems to have figured in some kind of clandestine comings and goings. The somber acknowledgment of the town's slave-holding past is contrasted with a present in which racism and bigotry are not unknown, but there are no easy villains, and Maebelle's is not the only family where black and white come together. Lots of elements here, and most fit together smoothly and treat the nicely drawn cast of characters with depth and dimension. (Fiction. 9-11)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
740L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Little-Known Fact:  

A hippo can hold its breath for a really long time.  

I wish Mama and Daddy could.    

I pressed my forehead to the bus window. It left a smudge, but I didn't care. I was riding a Peach--a Georgia Peach. All the buses in the fleet had gigantic peaches painted on the sides. The bus was decked out. There were four flat-screen TVs bolted to the ceiling and scattered throughout the bus. Of all things, a repeat of Good Afternoon, Atlanta featuring an interview with Mama and Daddy had come on ten minutes ago.  

Mama and Daddy had made arrangements for me to sit in the front seat behind the driver where she could keep an eye on me. But as we waited for the last passenger to reboard the bus at our fourth Waffle House stop, I stood.  

I went to slip Grace, the wrinkly bus driver, a five, a move I had seen Daddy do at fancy restaurants to get a good table--but he used Ben Franklins. As in hundred-dollar bills!  

Grace laughed a deep Coca-Cola chuckle as she shooed the money away.  

"Thanks, Maebelle, but no thanks. I can't be bought, but I can be persuaded." Grace kept on, "I tell you what, we've got another girl traveling solo. Take a seat near her, next to the toilet," she said, though her pronunciation of toilet sounded like twa-let.  

I nodded. Getting away from the sound of Mama and Daddy's TV voices would be super-great.  

"All righty now, go ahead. But don't forget, these eyes"--Grace pointed to her eyes, which were hidden behind big sunglasses--"can see you anywhere."  

"Yes ma'am, thank you ma'am," I said.  

I grabbed my backpack with my name, Maebelle T. Earl, embroidered crookedly (yes, it was my handiwork) on the zipper pouch and carted it down the long bus aisle, then took a seat diagonal and one back from the girl Grace had mentioned. She was asleep--dead asleep. She had one of those travel pillows wrapped around her neck and had a bag of snack mix in her lap. Her hand was still inside it and a bit of drool was creeping out the side of her mouth. G-r-o-s-s, gross. Had she fallen asleep midbite?  

I plopped down as Grace revved the engine and took off for another lonely stretch of highway. I scootched around in my seat and did my best to settle in. At least back here, I figured I wouldn't be able to hear Mama and Daddy spout their self-help talk.   I was wrong.  

"The third step in our Making Our Love Last series is to face one another, breathe deeply, and to try to match the intake and outtake of your breath with your partner's," Mama's voice said from the nearest TV as I dug in my book bag.  

I reckoned there was nowhere to run. Mama and Daddy's fame was spreading. They had just left for a nationwide book tour that kicked off in New York City, and they were being interviewed on the Today show and on Regis and Kelly. The publisher was so happy, they'd sent a limo to the house to take Mama and Daddy to the airport. I rode in it too, before they dropped me at the bus station. I may have had a T in my name, like everyone on Mama's talented side of the family does, but in my case, my middle initial stood for NO TALENT. As in not a lick.  

Not anymore.  

This fall, when I started school at Robert E. Lee Middle, I was going to be in regular classes. Regular! No more Gifted and Talented program for me. I'd been kicked out. Or as Mama had explained it when we went over the official letter that arrived two days before, I was "not pegged this year."  

That night, we'd had a family meeting, Daddy in his wingback chair with Mama perched on the arm and me on the couch.   "Darling, tell us how you feel," Mama'd said.  

"Fine," I said. They didn't believe me.  

They told me it was A-OK if I didn't want to talk about it. That in time I would. And that maybe a summer away would even do me good. In the meantime, they let me know I was more than fine the way I was and that as long as I did my best, my best was good enough.  

I didn't swallow a word of it. My best made me regular, not gifted or talented. I was normal, as in nothing special. Truth be told, that was what had my chin hanging so low. Not traveling via bus or being without Mama and Daddy for the summer.  

"Tweedle, Georgia," I whispered to myself. That was where this bus was headed, or at least where I was: Tweedle, Georgia.  

I couldn't wait to see Granny and Gramps. Mama and Daddy were therapists and they said all the right things, but that was because they had to. They were trained to. When I needed cheering, I often talked to my grandparents. Even over their crackly cellphone, they were the two biggest cheerleaders any girl could have.  

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Bethany Hegedus has spent time above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. While she currently makes her home in Austin, Texas, she spent her formative years in Georgia and Illinois. Bethany cares deeply for children, having once been a high school teacher and youth advocate. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. This is her second children’s book. Please visit her at

From the Hardcover edition.

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Truth with a Capital T 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I could not put it down. not just for children, adults enjoy it too. I can not wait for Bethany Hegedus' next book. She is a wonderful author.