The Mighty Miss Malone

by Christopher Paul Curtis

Deza Malone played a minor role in Bud Not Buddy (Delacorte Press, 1999) as... read more

Deza Malone played a minor role in Bud Not Buddy (Delacorte Press, 1999) as the girl Bud met in a Hooverville, but she’s front and center here in the story of an African American family struggling to stay together at the height of the Depression. Deza is a bright eleven-year-old aspiring writer who often uses big words and flowery language to try to impress her teacher, who advises Deza to keep her language and ego grounded. Deza’s older brother Jimmie is big on personality and troublemaking, not to mention singing talent, but, at fifteen, he’s very small for his age. It’s a worry for Jimmie and their parents, but there’s no money for a doctor, just as there’s no money for a dentist for Deza’s sore teeth. They are barely getting by in their rented house in Gary, Indiana, when their father is in a tragic boating accident. The sole survivor, he is wracked by guilt and leaves home to find work in Flint. But no word comes from him. When the family is evicted, Deza, her mother and brother first get help from some of Jimmie’s questionable acquaintances before hopping a train to Flint. They end up in a Hooverville, unable to find the children’s father, other relatives, or a place to live. Deza’s story is both funny and poignant. There are colorful characters, memorable scenes, and moments of true compassion in a novel that balances some surprisingly sad events with an upbeat ending, although one that doesn’t wrap up every loose end. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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