Old Blue Tilley

Robbie Branscum, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $11.95 (90p) ISBN 978-0-02-711931-2
The narrator of this episodic novel is 14-year-old Hambone, an orphan taken in by a traveling preacher in the 1930s' Ozarks. Though he is dependent on Old Blue for shelter, food and company, Hambone is determined to leave as soon as he is old enough to reclaim his family's farm from the greedy uncles who have stolen it. Until then, the lonely boy vows he will not befriend anyone, or even reveal his true name; from what Hambone has seen of life, people are not to be trusted. But a trip through the mountains with Blue convinces the boy that there are good folks as well as bad, and he finds comfort when he finally lets the Lord into his heart. Although Branscum does an admirable job of relating the hardships of the poverty-stricken mountain people, she ultimately trivializes them by conveniently resolving her characters' problems in the final few pages. Hambone's growth is unconvincing: his story is not a fairy tale, and its ``happily ever after'' ending is neither believable nor satisfying. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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