cover image Walking with Miss Millie

Walking with Miss Millie

Tamara Bundy. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-54456-9

Bundy debuts with an unlikely-friendship story, set in 1968, between a 10-year-old white girl and an elderly black neighbor. Alice, her mother, and her deaf six-year-old brother, Eddie, have moved from Columbus, Ohio, to the tiny town of Rainbow, Ga., to take care of Alice’s grandmother, newly suffering from what Alice calls “the forgetful disease.” Unwillingly displaced, Alice longs to reunite her separated parents; when she accidentally eavesdrops on a telephone party line, her mother makes her apologize and offer her help to one of the parties: 92-year-old Miss Millie, her grandmother’s widowed neighbor. Soon the two are taking daily walks with Miss Millie’s dog and confiding in each other. Slowly, through their conversations and through Alice’s daily observations and interactions in town, she awakens to segregation and prejudice. Miss Millie is somewhat broadly drawn, but what could be a stereotypical relationship is made richer by Alice’s growing individuality as a character. While the book offers no real surprises, Bundy avoids the expected plot development surrounding Alice’s deadbeat dad, and Alice’s strong character development makes for a satisfying read. Ages 10–up. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (July)