Saturday, May 14, 2016

That's Not Hay in My Hair

That’s Not Hay in My Hair,  by Juliette Turner, is the story of soon-to-be sixth-grader Juliette (Jules) O'Connor. After her end-of-the-year school party, she and her mother are leaving New York City to live on a cattle ranch in Texas. Her mother was born and raised in Texas, but left the state to live in New York City to work on her career as a writer. She bought a ranch in Texas, but never lived there, only going back to visit. Now, she and Jules will live there full time.

Jule's mother is familiar with life in Texas and life on a 300 acre cattle ranch. But, Jules has no clue what things will be like. She is terrified by stories of snakes and scorpions and coyotes. When the two arrive at the ranch, fully expecting to be looked after by long-time caretaker Beau-Dee, they are surprised to learn he will be leaving the ranch for good the very next day. How will the two survive on the ranch by themselves?

What I Like: I appreciated all this little "factoids" that were thrown into the storyline. The author did a good job of adding useful and interesting tidbits to the narrative, increasing my knowledge of cattle and horses.

What I Dislike: It was difficult for me to get into the story. I thought from the opening chapters, when Jules is preparing to move out of New York City and into a cattle ranch in the heart of Texas, there would be lots of conflicts between the city life and the country life. There wasn't. There was barely any mention of it at all.

I thought there would be a lot of problems that they would have to deal with on their own that they would normally have relied on Beau-Dee's help to figure out. Although there were a lot of problems to deal with, they didn't exactly have to do things by themselves. There was always someone who was just a phone call away. Turns out they really didn't need Beau-Dee, although the opening of the story made it sound like they would.

The author included a lot of things in the text that left me with more questions than answers. Here are just some of them (Unfortunately, there were many more.): How could a dog drag mud into the house when it hadn't rained? If Texas was so hot, why did Jules wait so long to react to the heat? Who actually set off the fireworks at their 4th of July party? What kind of vine has thorns in it?  If Maggie's left foot was so sore, why was that the one that she stamped the ground with? How come Jule's mother was caught totally off guard when Jules mentioned her first day of school was the next day?

There was also overuse of the actions of eye rolling, smirking and shoulder and head patting.

Although the book was published by Zonderkidz, Christianity seemed to be just an after-thought. Jules does superstitious things like crossing her fingers and her toes. Her mom kept using the phrase "Holy Moses." Prayer was offered before only one meal, by Jule's grandmother, at the end of which she crossed herself, even though Jules stated she wasn't Catholic. Early parts of the book mentioned they went to church in NYC, but there is no mention of them going to church in Texas.

Overall Rating: Ho hum.

Age Appeal: 8-12.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2016; ISBN 9780310732440; Paperback, 240 pages, $8.99.

Special Info: Just for girls.

1 comment:

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