|Barbara O'Connor: Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia|
Straus and Giroux (Hardcover), ISBN 0374322589
In her new book, Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, Barbara O'Connor shows us friendship and love with a cast of quirky, oddball characters. She tackles winning and losing and how to tell the difference in a style sure to appeal to the middle-grade reader.
Burdette Weaver (Bird for short) wears her sister's dirty white marching boots because they're soft and broken in, sits by herself in the school cafeteria ignoring green peas the popular kids fling at her, and shops for bargains at the Have-to-Have-It Shop. Bird dearly needs a friend.
Harlem Tate seems a likely candidate. Gossip claims that Harlem's daddy is in prison and his mother choked on a chicken bone. Bird decides to get to the bottom of Harlem's mysterious past and to discover why the new kid at school lives with Mr. Moody, the town's craziest recycler and can collector. And over the Elite Tattoo Parlor, at that.
Bird's friend and neighbor, Miss Delphine Reese, sets her Passion Pink fingernails clicking and comes up with a plan. She whips up an apple pie to deliver to Harlem, and together she and Bird convince him to be Bird's partner in the school spelling bee. Bird decides they'll win the big prize, a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disney World. As luck would have it, Harlem knows how to spell. Bird doesn't.
Convinced her wish for fame and glory will soon be fulfilled, Bird memorizes word lists while she discovers Harlem's secrets. The secret Bird didn't plan on uncovering causes Harlem to miss an easy word during the Spelling Bee -- one he knew for sure. Harlem can't see to read the writing on the easel.
Bird and Miss Delphine figure out a way to convince Harlem to ask Mr. Moody for the glasses he needs. Then they wait to see what happens. As it turns out Harlem got his nickname from the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, and he knows how to play. Being the tallest boy in sixth grade helps. Now that he can see, he shows the other kids a thing or two about playing basketball and about getting the right homework answers. The trip to Disney World may remain only a dream, but Bird decides real fame and glory comes from her friendship with Harlem.
A master of spunky heroines and down-and-out everyday folks, Barbara O'Connor writes of her native South with an ear finely tuned to the people and the places. The author of a series of biographies as well as prize-winning novels for young people, O'Connor received a Parents' Choice Gold Award for Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia.
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