Fiction Kevin McColley Pecking Order

ISBN 13: 9780060235550

Pecking Order

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9780060235550: Pecking Order

Young Tom Morrell is faced with his own hard decisions as his family wrestles with the idea of giving up the family farm in order to survive in hard times, in an honest and humorous growing-up story.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-9-Tom Morrell's family has farmed their land since before the Civil War, but they are now facing foreclosure. His father struggles to pay the bills, but he is convinced that he is fighting a losing battle. Tom must learn to deal with his pesty younger brother, a new interest in the opposite sex, and, most of all, his desperate father's solution to their financial problems: robbing neighbors. Religion plays a strong role in this narrative, creating tension between Tom's fanatical mother, who depends on God, and his father, who relies on the land. While the book attempts to explain the government-caused situation experienced by the farmers in the midwest, it does not give any easy answers. The pace is sluggish in places, but this is still a moving, often heartbreaking story. Although the mood does become dismal at some points, the overall effect is one of hopefulness and pride. Belief in the family is important, but this theme is not overplayed. This is a coming-of-age novel that addresses serious problems, and presents no trite answers.
Sandra J. Langlais, Newport Public Library, RI
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Gr. 6-9. Set on a family farm in Minnesota that has seen better days, this tragic, yet comic coming-of-age story follows two tumultuous years in the life of its sarcastic narrator, Tom Morrell. While the young adolescent has noteworthy opinions on topics ranging from the opposite sex ("Girls wouldn't know good humor if it up and slapped them in the face") to the elderly ("If they're not already dead, they're half crazy"), no one exacts Tom's verbal wrath like hellfire and brimstone preacher Ambrose Carstairs, whom Tom describes as "the oldest fart you ever saw." In between schemes to get his pampered baby brother, Jackey, to do his chores and falling in love with best friend Kelly (who literally has had him by "the balls"), Tom observes his father's descent into a life of petty crime, in an ill-fated attempt to save the farm, and his mother's retreat into religious fanaticism. While her breakdown is depicted in a painfully convincing manner, Mama's speedy recovery seems to be an attempt to compensate for the tragic ending that follows. A vivid novel that evokes the insular and unrelenting world of a rural community. Julie Corsaro

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