Louisiana’s Song is one beautiful book. It’s the second in Kerry Madden’s Maggie Valley sequence (the first being Gentle’s Holler and the third, Jessie’s Mountain, is upcoming in 2008). It traces the highs and lows of the Weems family, and in particular, the growth of Olivia Weems, “Livy Two,” as she moves with her family through the challenges that arise during her father’s slow healing process after a crippling accident.
Madden offers an honest, clear glimpse into day to day life in a mountain “holler” – the struggle to make ends meet and never seeming to have enough money, the joy to be found in nature’s gifts, and the simple wonder and strength of family. Madden’s Livy is charming, clever and caring, without being too good to believe. I think that one of Madden’s talents is her ability to create rounded characters – these are stories full of people you are eager to know better. I read Gentle’s Holler and Louisiana’s Song back to back, and the more I read, the more I felt that both books are something quite special. I was reminded of some of my favourite, timeless stories – Anne of Green Gables and Little House particularly – perhaps because of the whip-smart heroine and the strong sense of place Madden evokes in her stories. Read them and see if you just don’t want to pack up and head to Appalachia.
Louisiana’s Song is up for a Middle Grade Cybils Award this year. I feel it’s a front-runner. Kerry Madden has a stunning website that will make you love her books all the more. Not long ago on the Winter Blast Blog Tour, HipWriterMama interviewed Kerry. That lovely interview is here. Cynsations has an interview too, right here. And then, Little Willow has one too: here.
So quit reading all the interviews and go read the books, darn it!