Rabble Starkey

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by Lowry, Lois. (Houghton, 1987 ISBN 0 395 42607 9) Novel. Grades 5+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Review

Rabble (short for Parable Ann) and her young, single mother Sweet Ho have a wonderful relationship even though times are hard. Sweet Ho works for the Bigelows and Rabble and Veronica Bigelow are best friends. Rabble's family is replete with characters and she has so many cousins that she lends some to Veronica for the classroom assignment of constructing a family tree. Veronica's little brother Gunther is often ill but is much loved by all. When Mrs. Bigelow, who has been steadily retreating from reality, has a complete mental breakdown and is institutionalized, Rabble and her mother move into the Bigelow home and Sweet Ho's responsibilities increase. She is, however, being encouraged by Mr. Bigelow to get further education and pursue and teaching career. Rabble hopes for a more conventional and permanent family when she sees her mother and Mr. Bigelow kiss. This, however, is not to be and by the end of the book, Mrs. Bigelow is coming home. Rabble and her mother are setting out for a new home and a fresh start.

Many kinds of love are present in this thoughtful sometimes tragic and sometimes humorous book: the romantic love for Ginger that sweeps Sweet Ho off her feet when she is a young teenager; also romantic but founded on mutual respect is the love between Sweet Ho and Mr. Bigelow; family love is obviously present in the relationship between Rabble and her mother and between Mr. Bigelow and Veronica and Gunther. The friendship between Rabble and Veronica is another kind of love and then there's the love of Norman for Veronica which might be a kind of puppy love. The characters in Rabble Starkey are memorable and the action believable in this story about love and mental illness.

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Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

  • Lois Lowry, author study including links to other books of hers reviewed here.

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