Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail byLesley Blume

Rusty Nail, Minnesota is a town "famous" for being the former American Coot (a bird that looks sort of like a duck) capital of the world. Unfortunately one day they decided to just up and leave and "Rusty Nail was left with only the fond memory of the Era of the Coot." All and all Rusty Nail is a small town with few opportunities. That's why 10-year-old Franny is determined to make the most of her big chance. Franny isn't the best at math or reading or science and she and her friend Sandy have a real penchant for mischief, but if there's one thing Franny excels at it's piano. Her father even calls her his little Mozart. So when the school principal asks Franny to play piano at an assembly for a special visitor to the town Franny practices like she's never practiced before.

The book is set in the 1950s and follows many of the predictable themes of the decade: small town America, the birth of television and most of all McCarthyism. Much of the story focuses on Franny's relationship with Madame Malenko, an aloof Russian concert pianist who moves to town as well as the town's reaction to her arrival.

I've noticed that 50's themes have been popular ever since 9/11 because of the easy comparisons that can be made between McCarthyism and the war on terror. That element is definitely present in this book, but it makes it's point in more of a "don't judge a book by it's cover" fashion. This was a solid book through and through. Give this one to fans of historical fiction, music or Russian composers with unpronounceable names grades 5 thru 8.

[click here to see if it's available]

by Patrick