Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

Main Page
Author List
Title List
New This Month
Interest Level
Subject List
Booktalking Tips
Book Review Sources
Reading lists
Nancy Keane's Children's Website
Holm, Jennifer L.
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999
IL 5-8 RL 6.5
ISBN 0060278226

(3 booktalks)

This story takes place near the Nasel River in Washington State in 1899. Twelve-year old May Amelia Jackson is the only girl in a Finnish American family of seven brothers. She is resentful because everyone expects her to act like a lady. This is a very difficult task because she is the only girl around not only in her family, but also for miles around and she continually gets into mischief. May Amelia experiences many obstacles which include a physically abusive grandmother to the death of her newborn sister, but in the end, she comes of age triumphantly. I enjoyed this book because it teaches us that having "self-worth" and love from your family can help one overcome difficult obstacles.  It also made me cry and laugh like a baby.  (Marta Lopez,  Teacher Librarian

Boktalk #2

Are any of you the only girl or boy in your family? Do you have a really big family?  Do people ever want you to be something that you don't want to be? Well that is what happens to May Amelia.  She lives in Washington state along the Nasel River.  She has 7 brothers and according to everyone she is a miracle. No other girls has been born into their family that anyone can remember.  She only likes to do boy things and she does not want to be a "Proper Young Lady". May Amelia comes up against challenges like a bear, an abusive grandmother, and a hateful adoptive cousin. May Amelia also has a secret wish, her mom is pregnant and she wants the baby to be a girl.  Will she get her wish and will she survive the challenges she must face in order to find out you must read "Our only May Amelia" by Jennifer Holm.  (Karen Womack, graduate student, <>)

Booktalk #3

How are boys different from girls in the way they are treated? Ask the students if they have brothers or sisters and then ask those who raised their hands how they treat each one differently.  A description of what a tomboy is, elicited from the students would then follow with an open-ended question in which they discuss if it's easier being a boy or girl.  I would then ask what kinds of things would boys and girls do who lived out in the country?  After this discussion, adding extra information if necessary, I would introduce the book and tell them about the setting, which takes place in the early 1900's and how the only daughter of a family full of boys
makes it in life.  ("Naomi Bates" <>)

SUBJECTS:      Frontier and pioneer life
                        Washington (State) -- Fiction
                        Brothers and sisters -- Fiction
                        Sex role -- Fiction
                        Finnish Americans -- Fiction


Permission is granted for the noncommercial duplication and use of this resource, provided it is substantially unchanged from its present form and appropriate credit is given.