By Ruth White
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374310028, 208pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2003
List Price: $16.00*
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A funny and moving story set in Kentucky
It’s the beginning of summer 1955, and though her family is struggling financially, Carolina’s mama still indulges her four daughters’ whims, like springing for all of them to get permanents. Each of her older sisters seems to have cut out a niche for herself, but Carolina Collins is still trying to find her own special place in life. The girls’ hardship is softened by the sudden appearance of their favorite cousin, Tadpole, a charismatic thirteen-year-old with a knack for guitar playing. Tad sees in Carolina a spirit and talent that no one has noticed before, and he predicts that she “is gonna surprise everybody one of these days.” The Collinses soon learn the real reason for Tad’s visit, however, and the weeks that follow are filled with dread that his abusive guardian will come and take him away.
But Tad is not the sort of boy to succumb to a bully, and he and Carolina both have surprises in store for everyone.
A Junior Library Guild Selection Tadpole is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
"White skillfully re-creates the time and place, and her superbly drawn characters possess the resiliency of spirt necessary to transform themselves." --Starred, School Library Journal