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Missing May


Missing May Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This critically acclaimed winner of the Newbery Medal and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award joins Scholastic's paperback line.

When May dies suddenly while gardening, Summer assumes she'll never see her beloved aunt again. But then Summer's Uncle Ob claims that May is on her way back--she has sent a sign from the spirit world.

Summer isn't sure she believes in the spirit world, but her quirky classmate Cletus Underwood--who befriends Ob during his time of mourning--does. So at Cletus' suggestion, Ob and Summer (with Cletus in tow) set off in search of Miriam B. Young, Small Medium at Large, whom they hope will explain May's departure and confirm her possible return.

About the Author

As a child in West Virginia, Cynthia Rylant never dreamed of becoming a writer. In her free time, she devoured Archie comic books and paperback romances and enjoyed the outdoors. But after taking one college English class, she was, “hooked on great writing… I didnt know about this part of me until I went to college-didnt know I loved beautiful stories.” And one night, inspired by the Southern writer James Agee, she sat down and wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. Named a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it was an instant success.

Since that night, Rylant hasnt stopped creating wonderful books. Her stories explore friendship, love, grief, and other mysteries, and often draw on her memories of growing up in Appalachia. “I get a lot of personal gratification thinking of those people who dont get any attention in the world and making them really valuable in my fiction-making them absolutely shine with their beauty.”

She lives with her many pets in the Pacific Northwest.

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Home School Book Review, July 15, 2013 (view all comments by Home School Book Review)
As I would see the title of this book on lists of award winners, I always guessed that it was probably about a little girl named May who went missing. Boy, was I wrong! When twelve-year-old Summer was six, her mother died, and after being passed from house to house by her mother’s brothers and sisters in Ohio, she came to live with her Aunt May and Uncle Ob in a rusty old trailer at Deep Water in Fayette County, WV. Now Aunt May has died while out working in her garden, and both Summer and Uncle Ob miss her terribly. Then one day Ob claims that May has sent him a sign from the spirit world, but when he fails to hear any more, he seems to be losing the will to go on living, and Summer just doesn’t know what to do about it because she’s feeling sad and forlorn herself.

However, their neighbor and Summer’s odd seventh-grade classmate Cletus Underwood, who has collected a suitcase full of newspaper clippings, has a suggestion on how Uncle Ob, whom he has befriended, can find some comfort. What is it? Will it work? And what will happen to Ob? This book, which won the Newbery Medal in 1993, probably because someone thought that it was a good book to explain death and how kids deal with it, is a strange story. Certainly, mourning over the loss of a loved one is something that we’ve all felt. Of course, Christians learn to handle such situations by turning to the “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). While there are a few Biblical references scattered here and there, it is plain that Aunt May and Uncle Ob are not very religious. So where do Cletus, Summer, and Ob turn to find help? They set off in search of the Reverend Miriam B. Young, Small Medium at Large and “pastor” of The Spiritualist Church of Glen Meadows, who claims to communicate with the dead. For Bible believers, the theology behind this book is just plain poor.

I realize that various people grieve differently and seek comfort in their own way, and in the end things seem to turn out all right in the book, but many parents will likely be concerned about the themes of “spiritualism,” seeking answers with mediums, and communicating with the dead. As others have noted, if people do not wish their children to be exposed to these issues in a positive light or would prefer to discuss them with their children in view of their own values, they would not have a clue about the content from the book summary. As to language, in addition to several common euphemisms (blamed, holy crap, heck, bejeezus, and even “swear to God” as an interjection), both Ob and Summer use the “h” word, Ob uses the “d” word, and after using “a few choice swear words” he once said that cussing was like taking a strong drink of whiskey because both thawed him out and got his engine running again. In And the Winner Is…A Guide to Newbery Medal Winners from a Christian Perspective, Barb Brandeis and Deb Ekstrand, wrote, “Uses bad language. If this is the best literature of the year, 1992 was a BAD year.” I don’t really recommend Missing May.
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Product Details

Rylant, Cynthia
Scholastic Paperbacks
Children's 4-8 - Fiction - General
Children's 9-12 - Fiction - General
Social Situations - Death & Dying
Situations / Death & Dying
Social Issues - Death & Dying
West virginia
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-Death and Dying
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Edition Description:
Mass Market Paperbound
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 4 up to 7
7.63 x 5.25 in
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Awards » Newbery Award Winners
Children's » Middle Readers » Newbery Award Winners
Young Adult » Fiction » Newbery Award Winners
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Death and Dying

Missing May New Mass Market
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$5.99 In Stock
Product details 112 pages Scholastic Paperbacks - English 9780439613835 Reviews:
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