A girl with Appalachian roots has plans for her Cincinnati neighborhood
Eleven-year-old Mary Mae Krebs dreams of being a famous singer-songwriter someday. And it's going to be made possible by her great-granny's guitar and box of music. But as much as Mary Mae thinks about her future, she's also got a heart big enough to worry about other folks and their futures. She's organizing a carnival to benefit Little Lukey, a two-year-old boy with a heart murmur, and she's worried about the family's boarder, Annabelle. Annabelle's been like an older sister to Mary Mae, so Mary Mae hates to see her making bad choices when it comes to love. But nudging Annabelle in the right direction means opposing a mighty force: Mary Mae's mother. Mrs. Krebs is convinced that Leroy, assistant manager of the Rise'n'Shine Poultry Company, is the man for Annabelle. Mary Mae doesn't like Leroy at all, and things start looking a whole lot worse when he and Annabelle get engaged.
In a laugh-out-loud story about bluegrass, love, and a carnival, Sandra Dutton introduces readers to a plucky young girl who is sure to get heartstrings thrumming.
Dutton (The Magic of Myrna C. Waxweather) sets this genial tale in a sleepy southwestern Ohio town, where 11-year-old narrator Mary Mae lives with her parents and Annabelle, a boarder who works at the Rise'n'Shine Poultry Company. Egged on by Mary Mae's mother, Annabelle casts aside Earl C., her kind, easygoing suitor, to become engaged to Leroy, the poultry company's self-important assistant manager (the woman says Leroy is "a man of promise. Won that Rise'n'Shine award for selling the most chicken parts"). But Mary Mae prefers Earl C., and grapples with mixed feelings when Annabelle asks her to be a junior bridesmaid. Hoping that Annabelle will recognize her error, the scheming heroine invites Earl C. to attend the carnival that she and two pals organize to raise money for a young neighbor who needs heart surgery. Everyone contributes to the carnival: one neighbor has his trained parrot walk through a ring of fire for the variety show; Annabelle stitches up a beautiful quilt to raffle off; and Mary Mae plans to sing a piece written by her musical great-granny called "Put Your Troubles in the Gutter, God's A-Sweeping Streets Today." There are no surprises here: the success of both Mary Mae's matchmaking and fund-raising endeavors are a foregone conclusion. Yet readers will likely find the spunky, big-hearted girl's efforts on both fronts highly entertaining. Ages 8-12.