May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012)


An atmospheric novel-in-verse about self-sufficiency and strength of will.

Recommended grade level: 3-6

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9781582463933)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction, survival, verse

Tone/Style: desperate

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: frontier life, dyslexia, abandonment, solitude

Themes: self-sufficiency, loneliness, perseverance

Summary: May is helping out on a neighbor’s homestead—just until Christmas, her pa promises. But when a terrible turn of events leaves her all alone, she must try to find food and fuel—and courage—to make it through the approaching winter.

This gorgeous novel in verse by Caroline Starr Rose will transport you to the Kansas prairie—to the endless grassland, and to the suffocating closeness of the sod house where May is stranded. May’s eloquent yet straightforward voice, and her bravery, determination, and willingness to risk it all will capture your heart. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Younger readers interested in frontier life and survival stories will like this one. The verse format makes it a quick read. Pair that with May’s reading struggles, and reluctant readers may relate to this one. Readers who want a realistic story about a girl like them overcoming great odds may find this an empowering story.

Who won’t like this book?: Though there is certainly tension, the book is not action-packed and the struggles May faces are the simple functions of day-to-day survival, so readers looking for daring feats should turn their attention elsewhere. The book has a simple and direct style that some readers may find distancing.

Other comments:


What to read next: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is another rural survival novel in verse. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a clear choice for fans of frontier fiction. Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm and Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson are some other popular titles about girls on the frontier. For survival stories, there are the classics Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert is the story of a 6-year-old boy who gets lost in the prairie and survives with the help of a badger.


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