Saturday, June 4, 2016

Midnight in Londesome Hollow: Review

Midnight in Lonesome Hollow is an entry in the American Girl Mystery series which features Margaret Mildred Kittredge who goes by Kit. Kit is visiting her Aunt Millie in the Appalachian area of Kentucky during the Great Depression (1934). She is interested in the folkways of the Appalachian inhabitants she meets and has been keeping a scrapbook of phrases, home remedies, traditions, and other interesting and unfamiliar tidbits. When a college professor comes to stay and study the basket-weaving traditions, Kit is fascinated. And when Professor Lucy Vanderpool is shown Kit's scrapbook, she is impressed and asks Kit if she'd like to take the place of her student assistant who is sick with influenza and couldn't make the trip. The budding young journalist is thrilled at the chance to do some real research and the two set out to interview local basket-weavers.

But somebody is not thrilled with the "outsiders" who have invaded their Hollow. After one successful interview, most of the basket-weavers refuse to meet with the professor and while they are talking with one of the few who agree to meet with them someone wrecks Professor Vanderpool's photo plates and ruins the pictures she planned to use in her book. Who would be mean enough to damage the equipment? Kit has her suspicions and isn't afraid to go out into the Hollow at night to find out if she's right.

As one might expect with a middle-grade mystery, this one isn't too complicated and there is very little violence (except to inanimate objects). There is a very real problem that drives the culprit to damage equipment and disrupt the research and it gives Kit a chance to learn a few lessons about the best way to help people. The focus of the book is really on the Appalachian people and the area during depression. Readers learn a great deal about folk traditions and also about the hardships brought about by depression and pull-out of several coal mining companies which severely affected so many families. It didn't just mean a loss of jobs, but it also shut down many schools (which were sponsored by the mining companies), limiting the educational opportunities for many children. The book also highlights the way so many outsiders insulted the Appalachian people by considering their folk traditions backward or "quaint." A very nice historical novel for young people. ★★


3 comments:

Clothes In Books said...

American Girl mysteries! New, I think, since my daughter was young and loved American Girl, we would both have loved that idea. I blogged recently on how she learned to read via American Girl.

Bev Hankins said...

Yes, this one came out in 2007. I would have loved these if they had been available when I was young.

fredamans said...

A middle grade mystery is perfect for when I am slumping. Have to keep this one in mind. Sounds fun!