The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm (2011)

My brother Wilbert tells me that I’m like the grain of sand in an oyster. Someday I’ll be a Pearl, but I will nag and irritate the poor oyster and everyone else up until then (p 1).

trouble-with-may-ameliaThis is a review of an advance reader copy provided by the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

It is 1900 and May Amelia lives with her five brothers (the sixth and oldest, Matti, eloped with an Irish girl to San Francisco), cousin Kaarlo, and Mamma and Pappa on a farm in Nasel, Washington.

Her hard life on the farm – cooking, mending clothing, going to school to learn English, and tending the animals and land – is tempered by hijinks and humor. Amelia is surrounded by boys, often mistaken for a boy and prefers to treated like a boy rather than a No Good Girl.

Several new characters arrive in Nasel: Jaakko and his younger sister, Helmi – May Amelia’s cousins – arrive from Finnland, traumatized by the murder of their mother. Matti and his Irish bride make an appearance. And Mr. F. B. Yerrington, who claims to “represent the interests of a group of gentleman who are looking to develop” Nasel, swindles several farm owners, including Pappa (p 50). May Amelia once again takes the blame and must go about setting things right.


The Trouble with May Amelia picks up just after Our Only May Amelia left off, though even more humorous and heartwarming than its predecessor. It is amazing what Holm accomplishes with terse dialog and expertly placed capital letters.

This three-time Newbery Honor author does it again with a poignant follow-up to a contemporary classic. A definite addition to my 2012 Mock Newbery list… which had included only Okay for Now until now.


One thought on “The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm (2011)

  1. Pingback: Mock Newbery 2012 | wordstocking

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