I found this gem while looking over the new fiction table at my favorite Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metro Library and was drawn by the author, Kimberly Willis Holt. I like her style...A LOT! Dear Hank Williams didn't disappoint.
Set in post World War II Louisiana, Tate begins writing letters to Hank Williams who she listens to on the radio every week. He performs as part of Louisiana Hayride, a music show much like the Grand Ole Opry only on a much smaller scale. She falls in love with his sound and, as part of a class project, she takes him as her pen pal instead of a student in Japan.
Through her unanswered letters we learn the story of Tate, and her absent mother and father. She is in the custody of her great Aunt Patty Cake and sometimes her Uncle Jolly when he is not out with his latest girlfriend or drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole.
Tate spends a lot of time with her little brother, Frog, pretending to be spies, practicing her singing or playing hide and seek. Frog seems to be a scared of a lot of things, and disappears mysteriously at unusual times.
The story moves quickly and filled with surprises and turns that frankly, I didn't see coming. I love the down home language and Kimberly Willis Holt's descriptions of a simple time in a small town in Louisiana. I can't wait for my 4th any 5th graders to read this book so we can talk about everything that happens. I'm definitely adding it to my tops of 2015 reading list.