Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charlie Anne is a Memorable Character

If I had read it sooner The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco would have made my list of books deserving of an award. The title character is so strong and spunky that I was drawn into this book immediately.

Charlie Ann is a young girl growing up in the Depression. As if that doesn't present enough obstacles, she has so much more to deal with. A single father that must go off to build roads leaving the children with a mean older cousin, Mirabel who has designs on their father. Her older sister, Ivy, who torments Charlie Anne, probably as a way to deal with her grief of losing their mother. Charlie Anne also deals with a learning disability and the memories of a teacher that verbally and physically abused her when she reversed her letters trying to read.

Despite all of these negatives in her life, Charlie Anne thrives. She is smart about animals and how to do things on the farm. She can make the best vinegar lemon pie around and she knows how to entertain her younger sister, Birdie, entertained when she is unhappy. There's nothing like a good chicken race to lift little Birdie's spirits.

Charlie Anne's life changes when Old Mr. Jolly across the street brings home his new bride, Rosalyn and her daughter, an African American girl named Phoebe. The community is shocked by this new family, both Rosalyn and Phoebe wear pants, and they can't believe that Phoebe isn't the hired help. Through it all, Charlie Anne and Phoebe become friends even though Charlie Anne has been told to stay away from Phoebe. When Rosalyn, a teacher, discovers that Charlie can't read, she sets out to help in a gentle, patient way with Phoebe as her assistant.

It's through the re-opening of the school that we learn the back story of Rosalyn and Phoebe and how they became a family. It's a touching tale of the racism that occurred in the south. It's also the re-opening of the school that reveals the other side of the mean cousin Mirabel. Events lead her to start taking charge of helping some of the other families in the community and through this aid she begins to see the value of Charlie Anne and her gifts.

All in all this is a touching story of family survival during one of our country's most difficult time. I really like how the community comes together to help one another and by doing that they all become closer. I think kids are really going to like this book, I know I did, and I'll be recommending it to all of my fourth and fifth graders.

Other Reviews:
Carol's Corner
The Musings of a Book Addict


  1. And think, if it had made the list then we'd have THREE books about girls in Depression era historical fiction. It would have been a new record, for sure.

  2. I was just thinking that this sounds like a Newbery candidate, or at least a Schneider Family award! Thanks for the review.

  3. Rosalyn is a great reminder for teachers to look for every kid's talent, they all have them, we just have to find them.