A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that positive messages abound in this tale of family tenacity in the Great Depression, but some of the misfortunes and hardships that befall the the Malone family are quite harrowing (e.g. losing their home, Mr. Malone's physical and mental deterioration) and may be troubling to more sensitive younger readers. The vivid snapshots of everyday life, main character Deza's exuberant, malapropism-laden love of language and learning, and the sudden dissonance of clashing worlds (say, the world of the Malones, and the world of the banker's family for whom Mrs. Malone cleans house) all add enjoyment, irony and interest to the story for thoughtful readers.
What's the story?
In May 1936, 12-year-old Deza Malone may be poor, but she's living a fairly secure, happy life in Gary, Ind., as the brightest student in her class and the beloved child of doting parents. But the Great Depression hits the family hard, first driving her father away from town in search of work, then Deza, her brother, and her mother after him when he disappears. Trouble and hardship follow, in which not only poverty but also racial prejudice play a role -- as does the kindness of strangers.
Is it any good?
Deza is an unforgettable character whose perspective on historical events is by turns entertaining and provocative. Curtis' previous book, Bud, Not Buddy, in which young Deza makes an appearance, won both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award, among other honors, so THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE is in good company. As the story progresses, young readers will have frequent occasion to contemplate what it might have been like, for example, to be in constant pain because half their teeth were rotting away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what you know about your own family members' experiences during the Great Depression. Were they similar to the Malones'. Have more recent bad times had a similar effect on people you know?
Mr. Malone tells his kids that being called "a credit to your race," while possibly mean as a compliment, is actually an insult that shows the speaker as ignorant and foolish. What are some other examples of "praise" that warn you to be extra careful of the speaker?
How does the lack of basic medical care affect the Malones? How might their lives be different today?
For the first time when she's in Flint, Deza understands why some kids hate school. What's different about this school and the one she used to attend? How do they compare to your school?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love stories of African-Amercian experience
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.