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Missy Violet & Meby Barbara Hathaway
Winner of the 2005 Steptoe Author Award for New Talent
Synopses & Reviews
The summer that Viney is eleven years old is extraordinary. It takes her out of school and puts her under the wing of Missy Violet, a well-loved midwife whose wise and warm ways help teach Viney about the business of catchin' babies. Suddenly, Viney must learn about roots and herbs and their medicinal purpose, understand the contents of Missy Violet's "birthin' bag," and contend with a snooty peer and wild, irrepressible cousin — Charles Elister Paxton Nehemiah Windbush. And all this before she actually helps to deliver a single baby!
At turns scary, funny, and exhilarating, the rhythm of Viney's rural life in the South quickens as she embraces her apprenticeship and finds her own special place as Missy Violet's "best helper girl." Hot jiggetty!
"Hathaway's debut book takes its inspiration from the experiences of the author's grandmother, who worked as a midwife in the rural south during the 1930s. Written in the ingenuous voice of an 11-year-old African-American girl, the novel chronicles her summer apprenticeship to Missy Violet, a charismatic midwife who was born into slavery. Though excited about the prospect of helping the woman with her 'baby catchin',' Viney has a lot to learn. For instance, she assumes that the woman transports babies to various houses in her big black bag after finding them 'inside tree stumps or cabbage patches.' Hathaway's anecdotal narrative includes tangential tales about other local personalities, but readers may find these less involving than the episodes focusing on the narrator's adventures with Missy Violet — including her lessons on healing herbs and other remedies ('Missy Violet's kitchen always smelled like a holiday' from the baked goods she delivered to shut-ins) — and with Viney's rambunctious cousin Charles. The author includes some intriguing historical nuggets, such as Missy Violet's description of witnessing, at age seven, a Yankee soldier presenting to the newly freed captives a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation ('Never heard such shoutin' and singin' and ringin' of the cow bells in all my born days as I heard on that day'). Unspooled as leisurely as a summer afternoon spent on the front porch, this appealingly nostalgic tale conveys the tenor of the time as well as the affable narrator's growth during one momentous summer. Ages 7-10." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[F]irst-time author Hathaway, through Viney's irrepressible, plainspoken voice, has a fine debut." Kirkus Reviews
"Based on true stories handed down to this first-time author, the delightful tale is successful in bringing a minority town during the 1930s to life....[E]ntertaining, enlightening." Children's Literature
Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award
“This appealingly nostalgic tale conveys the tenor of the time as well as the affable narrators growth during one momentous summer.”—Publishers Weekly “Realistic and exciting. . . . Great for reading aloud.”—Booklist
The summer that Viney is eleven years old is extraordinary. It takes her out of school and puts her under the wing of Missy Violet, a well-loved midwife whose wise and warm ways help teach Viney about the business of catchin babies. At turns scary, funny, and exhilarating, the rhythm of Vineys rural life in the South quickens as she embraces her apprenticeship and finds her own special place as Missy Violets “best helper girl.”
At turns scary, funny, and exhilarating, the rhythm of an 11-year-old girl's rural life in the South quickens as she embraces her apprenticeship to midwife Missy Violent, and finds her own special place as Missy's "best helper girl."
About the Author
Barbara Hathaway was born in Harlem, New York. Missy Violet and Me is based on the recollections of her mother, who often spoke glowingly of a relative who served as midwife to the southern community in which she grew up during the 1930s. Ms. Hathaway, a retired healthcare worker, was also inspired by the nurse midwives at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, with whom she was privileged to work for several years. Ms. Hathaway lives in Westchester County, New York, with her family.
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