Saturday, June 15, 2013

Arkansas Statehood

On this day in 1876, Arkansas became the 25th state. To celebrate, we're highlighting authors from, and books that take place in, the Natural State.


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. The town of Lily, Arkansas, is taken by storm with the possible sighting of the Lazarus Woodpecker, a bird long thought to be extinct. Cullen likes to mock it. His brother, Gabriel, is a bit more zen about it. Then, Gabriel disappears without a trace.

You Are So Undead to Me by Stacy Jay. Megan thought that after the zombie attack 5 years ago, her Settler powers had left her. No such luck. On the night of her date with the hottest guy in school, right before he's supposed to pick her up, someone else shows up at her door. An undead someone. The first in a series, follow it with Undead Much?

True Grit by Charles Portis. Mattie may only be 14, but she's following the tracks of the man that killed her father and stole his money and horse in order to exact her revenge. Although published for adults, teens will enjoy this book. This edition even contains an afterward by Leonard Marcus and directed at teen readers. In addition to taking place in Arkansas, Portis was from El Dorado.


A Time to Kill by John Grisham. In Grisham's first novel, two white men rape a young black girl and are then killed by her father. The crime explodes the small town in racial tension and violence as the man is tried for the crime. I was a huge Grisham fan when I was a teen and this book is him at his best. Grisham was born in Jonesboro and has lived in several times in Arkansas.

Disenchanted Princess by Julie Linker. West's mother died when she was a baby and her father's just been sent to prison for embezzlement. So West is being shipped from her high end life in LA to live with an aunt she's never met. In Possum Grape Arkansas.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. This history of Westward Expansion is told from the side of the people's who were already living there. Each chapter focuses on another tribe as it moves through time. A classic work, I like this edition because it has maps, which are very useful in a book that covers this geographical range. Brown grew up and went to college in Arkansas, and moved back after retirement.


Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. Patty is Jewish and is conflicted when she befriends a Nazi who has escaped from the WWII POW camp in her small Arkansas town.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. In this autobiography, Angelou moves to Arkansas to live with her grandmother, and then back to St. Louis where life gets even harder.

Homestretch by Paul Volponi. After running away from home, Gaston ends up at a racetrack in Arkansas, initially working in the barn and then becoming a jockey. At the track, he must also confront his deep prejudice against Mexican immigrants.

Who are your favorite Arkansas authors? What are your favorite books that take place there?

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