Reviews for Trouble With May Amelia

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #1
Decidedly shorter than Holm's Newbery Honor Book Our Only May Amelia (1999), this sequel is otherwise quite consistent in its folksy language, rural-Washington setting, and plucky protagonist. Living with boisterous brothers, a distracted mother, and a father who considers her "Just Plain Stupid," May Amelia might be forgiven for thinking that "It is my destiny to die in an outhouse." The 13-year-old proves resilient, though, both at school and at home on her family's farm. Helping her family through the rough year of 1900 are the dreams of coming riches, which blossom after they invest with a land speculator. When that deal sours and the whole community is affected, blame lands on May Amelia's shoulders, since she acted as a translator between the slick shyster and her Finnish-speaking father. With plot elements pulled from the author's own family history, the book draws to a close with an ending that, though ultimately hopeful, hints at more trouble to come. Line drawings at the start of each chapter add further appeal. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
In this highly satisfying sequel to Our Only May Amelia, twelve-year-old Finnish American May Amelia is still getting into trouble, usually because she just wants to do what her brothers are allowed to do. Set in Washington State in 1900, Holm's story contains a true-to-life amount of danger. But even when the tragedies seem overwhelming, humorous, life-affirming moments keep readers afloat. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #3
In this highly satisfying sequel to the 2000 Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia, twelve-year-old Finnish American May Amelia is still getting into heaps of trouble, usually with Pappa, and usually because she just wants to do what her brothers (she has seven) are allowed to do. She's constantly trying to prove she's as good as a boy -- not an easy task. "Pappa says I'm Just Plain Stupid because I Never Pay Attention and that he would rather have one boy than a dozen May Amelias because Girls Are Useless." When a man comes by with a get-rich-quick scheme, Pappa asks May Amelia, not her brothers, to translate for him; she's proud to be useful, but when it turns out to be a scam and they lose their farm, Pappa blames her. Set in Washington State in 1900, Holm's story contains a true-to-life amount of danger, illness, and death. But even when the tragedies (an aunt is murdered and her son nearly decapitated; a brother's hand is crushed; a neighbor kills himself) seem overwhelming, amid the heartbreak come humorous, life-affirming moments that keep readers afloat and showcase the extreme fortitude of these immigrants. Add in narrator May Amelia's appealingly candid voice and several characters to care deeply about, and it's another winning tale. Shorter than the first (and with attractive chapter-opening illustrations), this book stands alone just fine, but readers will surely want more May Amelia. jennifer m. brabander Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #1

More than a decade after she introduced the title character in the Newbery Honor–winning Our Only May Amelia (1999), Holm delivers a sequel, set again in the wilderness of Washington State in 1900. As in the first book, the author draws upon and was inspired by the history of her own Finnish-immigrant ancestors' experiences toughing it out in that area over a century ago. A year has passed since the first book; May Amelia is now 13. Times are hard, though family closeness, hard work and sheer grit hold the Jacksons together—along with Pappa's iron will. Then the family loses everything when Pappa becomes the unwitting victim of a land swindle. May Amelia, having translated during negotiations because she is the best English speaker in the family, is accused by her father of not fully understanding and conveying the con artist's smooth talk. All is not grimness, however. Holm incorporates warmth, humor, excitement and even a wedding into her story. Though the novel ends a little too neatly, albeit happily, Holm gets her heroine just right. Narrating events in dryly witty, plainspoken first-person, this indomitable teen draws readers in with her account, through which her world comes alive. Readers who enjoyed the first novel should embrace May Amelia again and may well believe that the only "trouble" with her is that the sequel didn't happen sooner. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #1

Anyone interested in learning to write crowd-pleasing historical fiction for elementary school readers would be wise to study Holm's work. Since Our Only May Amelia (HarperCollins, 1999), Holm has collected three Newbery Honors, and this sequel demonstrates her mastery of writing a complete, exciting story in a trim novel. Twelve-year-old May Amelia Jackson lives on a farm in Washington State in 1900 with her parents, Finnish immigrants, and a passel of brothers. Life is hard, but Holm works humor into even the grimmest situations, and Gustavson's chapter-opening spot art adds a cozy, atmospheric touch. A ransacking bull (named Friendly) knocks down the outhouse (with May Amelia inside); suitors romancing Miss McEwing are sent packing in various, inventive ways lest the school lose its beloved teacher. Judicious use of Finnish phrases adds flavor, and details ground the story in an era when boys were still routinely "shanghaied" (involuntarily pressed into service on ships bound for Asia). "Best Brother" Wilbert tells her she's as irritating as a grain of sand in an oyster, and it's mighty fun to watch May Amelia morph into a pearl. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April

Gr 5-7--Holm reunites readers with the protagonist of Our Only May Amelia (HarperCollins, 1999). It is 1900 and the 13-year-old lives with seven brothers on the family farm along the Nasel River in Washington State. What is the "trouble" with May Amelia? Everything, according to her father, beginning and ending with her gender. Nevertheless, she possesses "sisu," Finnish for "guts and courage." It carries her through the continued sorrow over the death of her baby sister; the loss of the farm due to a phony land-development scheme; and the shame and blame her family receive as a result. At a time when life is harsh and prejudices are expressed through the use of words like "Chinamen," for Chinese townspeople, and "shanghaied," May Amelia, like Turtle in Holm's Turtle in Paradise (Random, 2010), is less an "irritating grain of sand" than she is a pearl. Both girls possess a talent for saucy quips and sensitive interiors where pain runs deep, but that never overtakes either heroine completely. These girls come from very different, extremely difficult periods in U.S. history, yet their stories read as extensions of one another. While some readers may find these three books too similar, others will find them satisfying.--Tracy Karbel, Chicago Public Library

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