Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
My friend Meg sent me this book some time ago and I just fell in love with it. Here’s the back-cover copy:
“Ruby Lavender and Miss Eula are a pretty good team, for a couple of chicken thieves. What other granddaughter-grandmother duo would drive the getaway car for chickens rescue from the slaughterhouse, or paint a whole house shell-shock pink? But now Miss Eula has up and left for Hawaii to visit her new (smelly) grandbaby. Poor Ruby. Stuck in boring old Halleluia, Mississippi, with nothing to do except read to her chickens, sweep floors (torture), and be tormented by the curly-haired, tip-tapping Melba Jane. But nine-year-old Ruby is in for some BIG surprises!”
First off, any book that opens with a daring chicken rescue is a good book. Now that we’re all clear on that, the other parts were good, too! The biggest charm of this middle-grade book is its voice—part deep south, part poetry. And while it opens with comedy, it deals with some pretty serious issues—loss of parents, mean girls, and the death of something you love. It also has a rock-solid underlayer of love between the heroine and her absent grandmother that comes out in their letters to each other and sustains them during their separation.
This would be a great book for kids to read aloud. And if they have a sudden urge to keep chickens when they finish, don’t blame me—blame Deborah Wiles 🙂