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The Mighty Miss Malone
Cover of The Mighty Miss Malone
The Mighty Miss Malone
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In the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bud, Not Buddy, Bud met a girl named Deza Malone in a Hooverville. This is her story.  “We are a family on a journey to a...
In the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bud, Not Buddy, Bud met a girl named Deza Malone in a Hooverville. This is her story.  “We are a family on a journey to a...
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  • In the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bud, Not Buddy, Bud met a girl named Deza Malone in a Hooverville. This is her story.
     
    “We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.
     
    “Witty and moving.” —The Wall Street Journal
     
    “The fluidity of the writing, the strong sense of place and time combined with well-drawn characters will captivate and delight. . . . a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
     
    “Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative. . . . Some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter One

    Journey to Wonderful

    “Once upon a time . . .”

    If I could get away with it, that’s how I’d begin every essay I write.

    Those are the four best words to use when you start telling about yourself because anything that begins that way always, always finishes with another four words, “. . . they lived happily everafter.”

    And that’s a good ending for any story.

    I shut my dictionary and thesaurus and went back over my essay for the last time.

    The best teacher in the world, Mrs. Karen Needham, had given us a assignment to write about our families. I knew, just like always, she was going to love mine. She’d only asked for two pages but this was our last essay for the year, so I wrote six.

    Once upon a time . . . in Gary, Indiana, lived a family of three very special, very happy and uniquely talented people. I am the fourth member of that family and much too modest to include myself in such a grandiose description of their exalted number. But many people say I am of the same ilk and for that I remain internally grateful.

    My mother, Mrs. Margaret “Peggy” Sutphen Malone, was born here in Gary, Indiana. She is willowy and radiant and spell-blindingly beautiful. She is also very intelligent. She has a great job cleaning for the Carsdale family. Yes, that Carsdale family! The family whose patriarch is the president of the Gary Citizens’ Bank.

    Her most endearing trait is that she is the glue holding this family together.

    “Deza?”

    I jumped and my pencil flew out of my hand.

    When I’m writing or reading a book, everything else around me disappears. Father says it’s because I’ve settled into what I’m doing, the same way my brother Jimmie does when he’s singing.

    “Jimmie! I told you not to sneak up on me like that when I’m writing!”

    He handed me the pencil. “I couldn’t help it, sis, you were so far gone. What’re you writing?”

    “My last essay for Mrs. Needham.”

    “You know, a lot of people are saying her not coming back to teach is the best thing that ever happened at Lincoln Woods School.”

    “James Malone, if I ever give one-half a hoot what a lot of people are saying, you have my permission to slap me silly. Mrs. Needham is the best teacher in the world. Now, if you don’t mind. I never bother you when you’re singing, don’t bother me when I’m writing.”

    “But lots of people love listening to me sing, Deza, seems to me like only you, that little pest Clarice Anne Johnson and Mrs. Needham like reading what you write.”

    Jimmie is one of those people who can say something that might sound mean at first, but when he smiles and makes his eyebrows jump up and down you can’t help smiling. He gets this deep, deep dimple in his right cheek and you end up laughing right along with him.

    My dearest friend, Clarice Anne Johnson, has a horrible and completely un-understandable crush on Jimmie. She says she bets you could pour cornflakes in his dimple and eat them out with a spoon.

    I’m hoping Clarice’s taste in boys improves as she gets older.

    “Jimmie, please.”

    “Sorry, sis. I’m heading out, can I do anything for you before I split?”

    “No, thanks. Just make sure you’re back for supper.”

    I looked at Mrs. Needham’s instructions again. “What is the most annoying trait of some of your...

About the Author-

  • CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS is the bestselling author of Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Medal, among many other honors. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, was also singled out for many awards, among them a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 30, 2012
    In Depression-era Indiana, Deza Malone’s opportunities are slim despite her potential. She’s got the smarts, the determination, and the attitude, but her family lacks the resources to help her grow to her full potential—and things only become worse when her father needs to leave for Michigan to find work. Narrator Bahni Turpin’s exuberant performance and raspy voice make this an enjoyable and lively audio edition. Deftly rendering Deza, Turpin produces an impressive range of emotions for the young protagonist as she confronts challenges. For male characters, the narrator lowers her voice a few octaves, creating spot-on voices and an audiobook guaranteed to appeal to young listeners. Ages 10–14. A Wendy Lamb hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 12, 2011
    Even ardent fans of Curtis’s Newbery winner, Bud, Not Buddy, may not remember Deza Malone, who shares dishwashing duties with Bud Caldwell during his brief stay at a Hooverville in Flint, Mich. Responding to readers’ pleas that he write a book with a female main character, Curtis traces the path that led Deza’s family to homelessness. It’s 1936 in Gary, Ind., and the Great Depression has put 12-year-old Deza’s father out of work. After a near-death experience trying to catch fish for dinner, Roscoe Malone leaves for Flint, hoping he’ll find work. But Deza’s mother loses her job shortly after, putting all the Malones out on the street. As in his previous books, Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative, using the Joe Louis–Max Schmeling fight to expose the racism prevalent even among people like the librarian who tells Deza that Louis is “such a credit to your race.” Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots. Ages 10–14.

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