Thursday, April 17, 2014

TWT: MOUTH OF THE SOUTH MG Historical Fiction

During the summer of 1960, when eleven-year-old PATSY DANCY, a.k.a. “Mouth of the South” goes off to Girl Scout Camp, heaven help her she can’t seem to control what comes out of her mouth, no matter how many times her mother has warned her to think before she speaks.

Lordy Mordy, Patsy hates change more than anything else, and this summer is jam-packed with—you guessed it--change. How is it that Patsy finds herself experiencing unexpected changes at Camp Occonneechee deep in the Smoky Mountains ? Especially since she thought last year had filled her life-time quota of change.

It’s all because this summer, Patsy craves an adventure. And, boy howdy, does she get one. At Camp Occonneechee, she experiences her first-ever time away from home, starts her period, is forced to wear a boob contraption, shaves her legs as a club initiation, and wages an all-out war against another girl in her cabin. Hallelujah for a new friend, May, and a diary replacing her overflowing journal at home to see her through each new event.

Returning home to Charlotte , NC , Patsy is shocked at rumors of possible change involving her best friend, Olivia, and mystified by change she sees in last year’s nemesis, Wayne . As is her custom, Patsy turns to Viola, Olivia’s colored maid, for a heaping plateful of comfort and wisdom.

Patsy learns that all change is not bad; new friends can be made in unexpected places; it is okay to write down all her thoughts, but she needs to censor what she says. Being Mouth of the South can give one permanent Foot ‘n Mouth disease.

In fifth grade, Patsy discovered writing. This summer she writes through her new experiences with her diary entries and original poetry. Life seems to be full of twists and turns for Patsy this summer. And she’s just gonna have to grow with them.


Fingers of July sunlight snaked through the interlocking foliage overhead and scattered brown diamonds across the lazy waters of Sugar Creek. Patsy and Olivia waded barefoot, ankle-deep, down the main channel, stopping ever so often to turn over a rock or scoop up petals blown into the water from near-by mimosa trees. They tucked the feathery mimosa clusters into their hair and behind their ears. Sweat beads still sprinkled their foreheads from the bike ride down Arnold Drive to the creek.

“I’ll be leaving in a few days, you know,” Patsy said as she kicked a spray of water into the heavy air.

“Does it have to be for two weeks?” Olivia whined. “Why not just one?”

Eleven-year-old Patsy shrugged. “Dunno. Just is, I guess.”

“You’re NOT going to like it, you know.”

“That’s what you keep telling me—for a gazillion times now. But this is Girl Scout Camp, not church camp. It’s bound to be different.”

“ALL camp is the same: bad food, hot cabins—it’s JULY, for crying out loud--, and boring crafts.” Olivia bent over to scratch a chigger bite. “Not to mention the other obnoxious campers whose parents sent them to camp to get rid of them for two weeks. Tell your mom you’re sick and can’t go.”

Patsy turned over a large rock, watched a crawdad wiggle away, and swished her muddy hands in the creek water. Olivia isn’t usually such a sour-puss, she thought. I bet she’s worried about something.

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