Monday, March 6, 2017

Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

Top Five Reasons You Should Read Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge, by Kristin L. Gray:

1. The premise: Vilonia wants a dog. If she can keep the class goldfish alive over spring break, maybe she can prove she’s responsible enough to take care of a puppy. Plus, a family pet might be just what Mama needs to snap out of her Infinite Sadness.

2. The adorably flawed, lovable narrator: Vilonia brings stray animals home, works to keep her mama from being fired from her job, and worries about her mother, who has been depressed ever since the death of Vilonia’s grandmother.

3. The setting: This story is alive with details of small-town, rural Mississippi, including the annual Catfish Festival, a Miss Catfish Pageant, and runaway hens.

4. The humor: Imagine a story with a flaming goldfish casket, a burning henhouse, a fourth grade obituary writer, and a radio DJ named Richie Rhapsody. Add in a chicken named Eleanor Roosevelt, a puppy named Ray Charles, and a goldfish named Maximus Tropicana. The humor balances the serious issue of Mama’s depression and makes this book a fun, fast-paced read.

5. The heart: “So, Vilonia, baby, yes, you’re a handful, but you’ve also held this family together in more ways than one.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Here’s what Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly had to say:

“Vilonia narrates her story with a colloquial Mississippi twang, punctuating self-effacing descriptions of her well-meaning but oft ill-fated actions with worry about her mother, desire for a dog, and longing for her grandmother.” (Kirkus Reviews January 15, 2017)

“Debut author Gray brings Vilonia’s small Mississippi town to vibrant life, creating a cast of warm, eccentric inhabitants and traditions, including the annual Catfish Festival. Vilonia’s amusing scrapes serve to counterbalance the seriousness of her mother’s condition.” (Publishers Weekly January 9, 2017)

This amazing middle grade will be published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books on March 7, 2017.

The author has generously donated a signed classroom set of bookmarks, a $10 Sonic gift card, and an autographed book plate to a reader of this blog. For a chance to win, leave a comment below, along with your email address. If you are a classroom teacher, make sure to note this, as you will receive an extra entry in the giveaway! One winner will be drawn at random.

About The Author:
Kristin L. Gray drinks coffee (cream, no sugar) and writes books (funny, not sad) from her home in northwest Arkansas. She loves to read, walk her dogs, and eat cake for breakfast. She will also travel any chance she gets. Kristin’s fourth-grade self would never believe she has five children, two dogs, one fish, a bearded dragon, and a shy gecko. Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge is her first novel. To learn more about Kristin, or to send her a cake, visit her online at


Sharon LJK said...

This seems like a book my students and I would enjoy! Teacher

Shari Green said...

This sounds delightful--loads of fun details but a lot of heart, too. I love books that manage a fine balance of humour and serious/sad. Thanks so much, Stefanie, and happy book birthday, Kristin! :D

Jamie Krakover said...

This sounds like such a fun heartfelt story! I'm a sucker for animal lovers :)

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

I loved this book so much and think that this could well become a classic! Go Kristin!

Patricia Bailey said...

I adored this book! 💕

R. H. Roberts said...

This story sounds so sweet. I love the southern twang :)