HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Ruby Holler
Author: Sharon Creech
Cover Illustrator: Marc Burckhardt
Publisher: HarperCollins, reprinted in 2003
Related website: www.harperchildrens.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Creech, Sharon. Ruby Holler (published in 2002 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY 10022). Thirteen-year-old Dallas and Florida Carter are orphaned “trouble twins” who live in Boxton Creek Home for Children run by greedy and neglectful Mr. and Mrs. Trepid. Tiller and Sairy Morey, a 65-year-old couple who live in nearby Ruby Holler, want to “borrow” the twins for a while to go on adventures with them, Florida with Tiller on a Rutagabo River boat trip and Dallas with Sairy on a visit to the island of Kangadoon. When they go back into town to pick up supplies, the twins accidentally tell Mr. Trepid about the Moreys’ “understone funds” hidden on their property, and he hires a shady character known only as “Z” to locate the money so that he can steal it.
However, “Z” is also a neighbor and friend to Tiller and Sairy. Meanwhile, the twins, afraid that the Moreys might turn out to be mean like some of their previous foster parents, take all their new gear and run away. What will happen to the “Z” and money? What will happen to Dallas and Florida? Will they ever get to go on their trip? This is a sweet, old-fashioned type of story. As to language, there is nothing worse than a few common euphemisms (blasted, heck, golly, dang) and one use of the word “Lord” as an interjection. The biggest red flag might be the treatment which Dallas and Florida received at Boxton Creek, where Florida was often whacked by Mr. Trepid, and their abusive foster homes–the spitting Cranbepps; scary, toothless Mr. Dreep who locked them in his cellar; and the mean Burgerton boys (told by means of flashbacks). The neglect at the orphanage was so severe that it resulted in the death of another one of the orphans named Joey.
This part of the story may be a little too intense for some younger readers. Also some people may not like the portrayal of foster parents and social workers in the book, but the fact is that these kinds of things do actually happen. However, in general the developing relationship between the twins, who have given up believing that there is such a thing as a loving home, and the eccentric, lonely, but grandparent-like older couple whose own children have grown up and left home is pleasant to follow as it demonstrates the healing effects of love and compassion. I distinctly did not like Creech’s Newbery Medal winning Walk Two Moons because it discusses themes which I believe are not appropriate for children. But I enjoyed Ruby Holler.