Belle Prater's Boy
Ages 12 and up
Random House, 2004 (1996), 0-440-41372-9
Gypsy does not know her cousin Woodrow very well. Of course she, like everyone in town and all around, knows that his mother Belle just disappeared one day and has not been seen or heard of since. But she doesn't know much about this odd looking little boy with his crossed eyes and his shabby clothes. She soon finds out though that Woodrow is a very special sort of boy, a very special sort of friend who will stick by you though think and thin.
When Gypsy gets sick it is Woodrow who does his best to keep her company, making her laugh and bringing her a wonderful visitor. And when Gypsy is forced to confront what happened to her much beloved father, it is Woodrow who helps her get through the pain of it all, defending her and holding her up until she is ready to accept the dreadful truth for herself. In her turn Gypsy is there for Woodrow as he shows himself and the whole world that he is not just "Belle Prater's Boy." He is also Woodrow, the boy who is clever, funny and who has a wonderful way with people.
This remarkable book reaches deep into the hearts of two children who have been hurt very badly by the people they love the most. Both them of them have been abandoned, have been left by parents who could not take their lives anymore and who had to run away. We cannot help admiring both Woodrow and Gypsy for their courage and the acceptance they discover together for their loss. We come to see how alike these children are and how hard they have to work to overcome what life has thrown at them.
With wonderful humour, sensitivity, and unparalleled skill, Ruth White takes us to the little town in Virginia and wraps us up in a story which reminds us that there is nothing in the world quite like a true friend.
This book won the Newbery Award.
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