Ruby Holler

Sharon Creech

Book - 2002

Thirteen-year-old fraternal twins Dallas and Florida have grown up in a terrible orphanage but their lives change forever when an eccentric but sweet older couple invites them each on an adventure, beginning in an almost magical place called Ruby Holler.

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New York : Harper Collins 2002.
Physical Description
310 p.
Main Author
Sharon Creech (-)
Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. Thirteen-year-old twins Dallas and Florida are continually in trouble for breaking the many rules of the Boxton Creek Home for Children. When an elderly couple, Tiller and Sairy, invite Dallas and Florida to stay with them in nearby Ruby Holler and travel with them beyond it, the twins are wary. Previous foster placements have been disasters. Tiller and Sairy, however, treat the children like their own, talking with them, teaching them, trusting them, loving them, outwitting them, and even letting them save face. In an unusual approach for a children's book, Tiller and Sairy's points of view are at least as important as those of Dallas and Florida; and how the foursome play off one another is one of the key points of the narrative. There's a larger-than-life feel to this novel that makes the minor characters and subplots feel a bit out of scale--or out of sync--but the main story rests squarely on the four well-drawn characters. A stylized yet solid story from the author of the Newbery-award-winning Walk Two Moons (1994). Carolyn Phelan.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The characters introduced here two abandoned children, their villainous guardians and a kindly country couple might have stepped out of a Dickens novel, but as Creech (Love that Dog) probes beneath their facades, the characters grow more complex than classic archetypes. Florida and her brother Dallas, raised in an orphanage run by the cold-hearted Trepids, rely on each other rather than grownups for support. They become suspicious when Mr. Trepid informs them that they are going to a place called Ruby Holler to accompany old Mr. and Mrs. Morey on separate vacations. Florida is to be Mr. Tiller Morey's companion on a canoe trip; Dallas is to help Mrs. Sairy Morey hunt down an elusive bird. Readying for the trips proves to be a journey in itself as the Moreys, Florida and Dallas make discoveries about one another as well as themselves in a soothing rural environment. This poignant story evokes a feeling as welcoming as fresh-baked bread. The slow evolution of the siblings who are no angels parallels the gradual building of mutual trust for the Moreys. The novel celebrates the healing effects of love and compassion. Although conflicts emerge, readers will have little doubt that all will end well for the children and the grandparently Moreys. Ages 8-12. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Orphaned twins Dallas and Florida have resigned themselves to living within the confines of the Boxton Creek Home for Children. It's a loveless existence. The Trepids, owners and "rule enforcers" of the home, target the brother and sister at every opportunity and all of the prospective adoptive parents have returned them to the orphanage. Eventually the children are sent to act as temporary companions to an eccentric older couple who live in Ruby Holler, and there they find love and acceptance. While the plot is predictable, the story weaves in an interesting mix of mystery, adventure, and humor, along with age-old and modern problems. Creech does a fine job of developing the unique personalities and the sibling relationship, and the children's defense mechanisms (Dallas's dreamy escapism and Florida's aggression) figure prominently in the interplay among the characters. The text is lively and descriptive with an authentic, if somewhat mystical, rural ambience. This entertaining read from a first-rate author will not disappoint Creech's many fans.-Robyn Ryan Vandenbroek, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) Midway along the road between Lemony Snicket's ironical nightmares and the luminous logic of Tuck Everlasting lies Ruby Holler. Here, too, villains are avaricious and events schematic, designed as much to support the author's ideas as to propel her protagonists' fortunes. Twins Dallas and Florida, thirteen, have been placed by orphanage proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Trepid (who as villains would be right at home in a Dickens or a Dahl novel) in yet another foster home, the first to treat them kindly. Tiller and Sairy, who much resemble the affectionate grandparents in Creech's Walk Two Moons, live in idyllic Ruby Holler, where they cook wholesome meals and support themselves with their exquisite wood carvings of forest creatures. In a bracing dose of reality, even this saintly pair's patience is strained by the twins, whose lifetime of abuse has left them both mischievous and lacking normal skills. Still, they are drawn into the old couple's plans for separate life-affirming journeys, each with one twin. Though their well-founded suspicions of an unfriendly world persist, Dallas and Florida begin to blossom in time to help foil the Trepids and to pitch in, sometimes heroically, where help is needed. Brief chapters, swift action, a hint of mystery concerning the twins' origins, generous doses of humor, engagingly quirky characters, and a lively, kid-friendly voice will all recommend this to a wide range of young readers. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

The trouble twins, Dallas and Florida, are given the opportunity to take a three-month vacation from the horrible orphanage that has been home. An elderly couple, Sairy and Tiller of Ruby Holler, wants help. Tiller would like to build a boat and explore the river Rutabago with Florida, while Sairy dreams of visiting far-off Kangadoon to see a red-tailed rocking bird, but needs Dallas's assistance. Dreamy Dallas and Feisty Florida have always counted on each other and dread parting. As the twins naturally strew trouble wherever they go, they also reveal the horrors of their past-but gradually, all four characters draw together. The charm of Sairy's acceptance of whatever awful thing the twins do is matched by her desire to see what she's like when Tiller isn't there. Despite ominous signs that the separation of both pairs may be dire, they persist. Adding tension, Mr. and Mrs. Trepid, who run the nursing home, hire Z (their only Ruby Holler neighbor) to discover the buried funds that will finance the upcoming expeditions. Tiller, is a grumbler, but it only hides his soft heart. Dallas and Florida both have a hard time believing that anywhere in the universe can be as wonderful as Ruby Holler, and they try to remain committed to their original plan to catch the freight train and escape. Various tidbits about the origins of the twins tumble into the plot in haphazard ways, developing that mystery. Such charm and humor is encapsulated in this romp with its melodramatic elements of treasure and orphans, that it feels perfectly reasonable to want it to go on and see what happens next. Creech ends with the readers more in the know than the characters concerned, making for a slightly unsatisfying finish. Still: an altogether engaging outing. (Fiction. 9-12)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.