"We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But it's 1936 and the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother, Jimmie, go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.
Excerpted from The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
An excerpt from Christopher Paul Curtis’s Afterword in his novel, THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE:
Even though Deza is a fictional character, many of her woes are based on the lives and struggles of very real children. A particularly rich and heartbreaking source was the collection of letters children sent to President Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
Authors are frequently asked what they want a particular book to accomplish. What I want The Mighty Miss Malone to do is, first, to provide an enjoyable read. Second, as with all of my books, I want this to be a springboard for young people to ask questions and do more research on some of the themes the book explores, in this case the Great Depression and poverty in general. And third, I hope that Deza can serve as a voice for the estimated fifteen million American children who are poor, who go to bed hungry and whose parents struggle to make a dignified living to feed and care for them. After writing that last sentence, I can’t help feeling this: the fact that in late 2011 I can write that there are fifteen million poor children in this country is, to quote the Mighty Miss Malone, “A tragedy, a true tragedy.”
-Christopher Paul Curtis
(Figures are from the National Poverty Center of the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy—2009 Poverty Thresholds.)
Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book of 2012
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen's Book of 2012
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
“Deza is one great heroine in her own right, a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell.”
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011:
“Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.”