HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe
Author: Bette Greene
Illustrator: Charles Lilly
Publisher: Puffin, republished in 1999
Language level: 3
(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: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Greene, Bette. Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe (published in 1974 by The Dial Press; republished in 1999 by Puffin Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, a division of the Penguin Group, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Elizabeth Lorraine (Beth) Lambert is an eleven-year-old girl who lives with her father, mother, older brother Luther, older sister Anne, and baby brother Benjamin on a pig and poultry farm in rural Randolph County near Pocahontas, AR. Philip Hall, who lives with his family on the neighboring dairy farm, is the cutest, smartest boy in the sixth grade, and Beth likes him. She reckons that he likes her too. The fact that he is better than she is in class work, sports, and almost everything else doesn’t bother Beth at first, but then she realizes that Philip might be best because she’s letting him beat her. So, what will she do about it?
The plot of the book is more episodic than continuous action, covering a year, from one September to another, of various events in Beth’s life and her on-again-off-again relationship with Philip Hall. Will she be able to help figure out who’s taking her father’s turkeys? What will she do when they get a pet dog and she turns out to be allergic to it? How will she make money to get the kind of educations she needs to become a veterinarian? What will she and her friends do about a local merchant who sells them cheap t-shirts which shrink? Will Beth’s Pretty Pennies Girl’s Club or Philip’s Tiger Hunters Boys Club win the relay race at the Old Rugged Cross Church picnic? And who will win the calf-raising contest at the county fair—Philip or Beth? I picked this book up at a used book curriculum sale with some trepidation because of the author, of whom it is said, “Her first novel, Summer of My German Soldier, won unanimous critical acclaim.” Well, I had read that book, and the critical acclaim was NOT quite unanimous—I found it disgusting and revolting.
Yet, Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe was a Newbery Honor Book in 1975, so I decided to go ahead and read it. There are a few euphemisms (e.g., “dang”) and an occasional “Lord” or “Lordy,” but worse than that, Beth herself makes reference to “those d*mn fool cows.” Why some writers of modern children’s novels seem to feel almost a compulsion to have even children in their books using bad language is beyond me. Also, with the attempt to approximate rural, Southern African-American speech patterns (“You is mad, Beth Lambert,” or “I never had nothing”), you wouldn’t want to use this book to illustrate good grammar usage. However, aside from the language issues, the book wasn’t nearly as bad as I was afraid it might have been and it does have an interesting story line, but for the life of me I still can’t see what about it was deemed worthy of receiving a Newbery Honor award. There must have been “slim pickin’s” that year. There is a sequel, Get On Out of Here, Philip Hall.