I have a bookshelf in my classroom library for books that I call "heart print" books. Those books that touch your heart... the ones that carve a little space out and nestle right inside. Those are the books that generally leave me with a book hangover. I have to let that book linger and swirl around in my mind and heart after I finish it. I'm not ready to part with the characters or the lessons I've learned or the thoughts around the book. Here's a book that is going in my heart print section and my recent book hangover.
Walking With Miss Millie
by Tamara Bundy
published by Nancy Paulsen Books
A poignant middle grade debut about the friendship between a white girl and an elderly black woman in the 1960s South
Alice is angry at having to move to Rainbow, Georgia—a too small, too hot, dried-up place she’s sure will never feel like home. Then she gets put in charge of walking her elderly neighbor’s dog. But Clarence won’t budge without Miss Millie, so Alice and Miss Millie walk him together. Strolling with Miss Millie quickly becomes the highlight of Alice’s day, as she learns about the town’s past and meets a mix of its catty and kind residents. As the two become confidantes, Alice is finally able to express her heartache over her father’s desertion; and when Miss Millie tells her family story, Alice begins to understand the shameful history of Segregation, and recognize the racism they need to fight against. Navigating the neighborhood with Miss Millie gives Alice new perspective, the wisdom to move on from her anger, and even enables her to laugh again.
Tamara Bundy’s beautifully written story reminds readers that there is nothing like friendship to lighten one’s load, and make anyplace a home.
My quick thoughts
There were a few things that stuck to me after reading this book:
passing on treasures
In the story, Miss Millie passes a small trinket to Alice after many of their walks. Each trinket is a small piece of Miss Millie. While none of them are worth money, they are treasures from her heart. It made me think about what we value as gifts and how the important ones are the ones from the heart.
finding friendship in places, or in people, you least expect it
Alice starts walking with Miss Millie as an apology for being too nosy. But at some point, going from in being a chore and having to walk with an older person, Alice comes to realize that Miss Millie has become a friend and she looks forward to her walks.
Making friends can be hard, but it's after reading a book like this I remember that sometimes we don't have to look for friendships. Sometimes they find us. And the joy of that unexpected friendship, often means even more!
the beautiful words of the wiser
Miss Millie is always imparting small nuggets of wisdom to Alice but it affected me, the reader, and made me ponder things too.
This book touches upon the racial unrest that was in the south in the 1960s. Of course, we certainly have that now. I think about the Black Lives Matter movement and how that was relevant in this book just like now. So even though it's fifty years later, this book is still relevant. I like that it can make a young reader talk about this issue.
This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend adding to your library!