Ten-year-old Mary Mae loves to sing hymns with her Granny, go to Sunday School, and learn about trilobites. She has lots of questions about how the earth looked millions of years ago. Trouble is, Mary Mae’s mother thinks it's wrong to believe the world is that old. Mama believes God created it six thousand years ago and she believes that nobody should teach Mary Mae otherwise. When Mary Mae starts taking her questions to church, asking how God created the earth in six days or how eight people could take care of animals on an ark, Mama puts her foot down: homeschooling. Mary Mae must decide where her loyalties lie: with science and Miss Sizemore, with God and Mama, or somewhere in the middle.
Mary Mae s inquiring mind and keen observational skills get affirmation from her fifth-grade teacher but distress her creationist mother. Refusing to take her pastor s advice to trust the Bible scholars, Mary Mae ends up with more and more questions as she tries to reconcile the Bible s account of creation with what she s learning in class about fossils and the age of the earth. Eventually, Mary Mae s questioning leads her frustrated mother to yank her out of school to provide Bible-based homeschooling. Why can t you be my sweet little Mary Mae? she asks. It s all so easy if you just believe what the Bible says and don t go asking no questions. Dutton (Dear Miss Perfect) sensitively navigates the sticky debate between creationism and evolution both through the young narrator s delightful curiosity and honest questions, and through the various responses she receives from numerous caring adults, who all strive to provide truthful guidance. Concluding with a pastor s affirmation that faithful people can have different opinions, it s an honest portrayal that respects both viewpoints, as well as those that slot somewhere in between. Ages 8 12.