Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: Katie John by Mary Calhoun (1960)

Katie John Tucker's family has recently inherited Great Aunt Emily's large old Southern house, so they must spend the summer cleaning it up and getting it ready to sell before they move onto New York, where Katie's father can resume his writing career. Katie is not thrilled about spending the summer in such a small town, but that changes when she meets Sue, a girl in the neighborhood with whom she shares many adventures. The girls look for ghosts, discover a possible human bone, have a lemonade stand, and get into a big fight (and make up, of course.) When Fall rolls around, Katie finds that she doesn't want to leave - and that she might just have a plan that will help her family stay in the big house.

I owned this book as a child and never read it. Knowing what I was like, this was probably because the first chapter mentions the possibility of ghosts and I hated to be scared. Otherwise, this is exactly the kind of book I have always enjoyed, about real kids doing regular things and finding their own excitement. Katie John has much in common with contemporary characters like Ivy and Bean, Clementine, the Penderwick sisters, and Judy Moody, and her personality is just the right combination of sweetness and trouble. Though this book was published in 1960, there is no reason kids today - especially those living in small towns themselves - can't relate to Katie. Her concerns about moving, making friends, and figuring out what made Great Aunt Emily tick are things that will always interest kids, no matter the time period. Katie John also makes a nice read-alike for another vintage favorite from around the same time, Gone-Away Lake.

1 comment:

  1. I had a copy of this for the longest time. Wonder where it is now. Sometimes I wonder if my public library (in the 1970s) had any books published after 1965, since everything I read growing up was so "old"!