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Big River's Daughter
by Bobbi Miller

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2752-9 Holiday House

This here story is all true, as near as I can recollect. It ain't a prettified story. Life as a river rat is stomping hard, and don't I know it. It's life wild and woolly, a real rough and tumble. But like Da said, life on the river is full of possible imaginations. And we river rats, we aim to see it through in our own way. That's the honest truth of it.”

So says River Fillian as she begins to tell her story in my book, Big River's Daughter. River's story is an historical American fantasy, a blend of the tall tale tradition that captures so much of the American identity, and a unique form of fantasy. The first is that philosophy that honors hard work. As River says, “life on the big river is full of possible imaginations.” If one works hard enough, she can achieve anything.

“Who-op! In River's story, Bobbi Miller has spun a yarn like no other. Here is a story full of ‘possible imaginations,’ a real rough and tumble, a tale as big as the Mississippi and as heartful as the currents running beneath her deep, muddy waters. I loved it!” ~Kathi Appelt, author of the National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor Book, The Underneath

Related to this optimism is the second aspect found in American fantasy: the politics of a democracy. In traditional high fantasy, the chosen one is made because of divine right. Arthur uses magic granted by god to pull the sword out of the stone. As such, he becomes King Arthur. But does he earn the authority? In a democracy, where individuals have some authority over their destiny, and as such have a choice in who is leader, the chosen one confronts evil and protects the people against those forces that would otherwise oppress or subdue them.

And the last aspect defining American fantasy, just as it does in the tall tale tradition, is the landscape itself. After all, it was the near incomprehensible vastness of the landscape, the extraordinary fertility of the land and the natural peculiarities that inspired the tall-talk grounded in humor of extravagance and exaggeration. River's story takes place on the mighty Mississippi River in a time when the big river was considered the edge of civilization: the Frontier.

(Excerpted from the article, Big River's Daughter, Children's Literature Network, posted March 20, 2013).

Big River's Daughter

“Huck Finn meets Pirates of the Caribbean!” ~Pam Kelly Glauber, Editor, Holiday House

“The richness of Bobbi Miller's language is matched by the excitement of the story. I often had to stop and read the words aloud to myself just to savor the rhythms of the author's unique voice. It's one of the few books worthy to share a shelf with our two other great river classics: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” ~Eric Kimmel

MISS SALLY ANN AND THE PANTHER
Retold by Bobbi Miller

Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Reinforced | 32 pages | US $16.95
ISBN: 9780823418336 | Holiday House

Selected to the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013 list, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children's Book Council!

"…the text flows like silk." ~Marion Dane Bauer, award-winning author of Little Dog Lost

Miss Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind was a woman of wonder. She could rope a hurricane, outspin a steam mill, and blow out the moonlight in a single breath.

spread from Sally Ann and the Panther

Her finest adventure is wrestling Fireeyes, a mean-as-tarnation panther. Lickity-split they begin fighting. “This wild romp will be enjoyed as a read-aloud or read alone, with the pictures adding an extra bit of frisson.” ~Booklist They raise such a racket that the moon dips onto its side and the Milky Way curdles. Neither one backs down, backs up, or backs out...until, finally, each wins the other's respect, and the two become great and glorious friends.

Sally Ann and the Panther by the hearth

Miss Sally Ann and the Panther

 

“Miller's rambunctious read-aloud is peppered with words itching to be shared — thunderific, swaggerous, conbobberation, terrifiacious, [and] ripsnorting.... Lloyd's acrylic artwork masterfully conveys texture, each hair on the panther and needle on the evergreens sharply defined…. Another solid addition to tall-tale collections." ~Kirkus Reviews

Sally Ann takes the prickles out of Panther's paw

“The tall tales of our youth are meant to show us a bigger picture; this one is no different. The knowledge that both Sally Ann and the panther could get what they want with a little give and take blossoms like a wild rose. ...The final scenes will certainly bring a smile to your face.” ~Gina Reba, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

DAVY CROCKETT GETS HITCHED
Retold by Bobbi Miller

Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Reinforced | 32 pages | US$ 16.95
ISBN: 9780823418374 | Holiday House

“What a splendiferous achievement!”
~Eric A. Kimmel 

“… this rollicking retelling rocks with mellifluous metaphors and artful alliteration… The text sings with rich vocabulary, making this tall tale a great choice for reading aloud.” ~Patricia Austin, Booklist.

“Festooned with similes and hyperbole, as all good tall tales should be, this tells the infamous story of how Davy Crockett and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind met and wed... Lloyd’s oils—panels frequently outlined with prickly borders—further the good-natured goof. ” ~Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will love the whimsical fun in these pages. The rich, detailed illustrations are a feast for the eyes. Both the author and the illustrator have taken an old, popular folktale and made it feel new again.” ~Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature)

“This retelling of the courtship of two legendary icons can be enjoyed by younger readers and will be useful for units on tall tales for older students.” ~Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI, School Library Journal

from Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett

“What a delight this book was to illustrate! I rounded up two friends to play the parts of Davy and Sally Ann and we all had a rollicking good time. They were dancing, I was photographing — what a blast. Morgan and Darcie, the models for Davy and Sally Ann, had appropriate “period” clothing on which was a tremendous help when it came time for me to draw skirts swirling and the fringe on Davy's buckskin britches whirling.” ~Megan Lloyd.

Davy poses

Morgan, dressed as Davy Crockett.
Copyright Megan Lloyd;
Used with permission.

ONE FINE TRADE
Retold by Bobbi Miller

Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Reinforced | 32 pages | US$ 16.95
ISBN: 9780823418367 | Holiday House

“I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.”
— Mark Twain,
Watermelon speech, 1907
One Fine Trade
is an excellent example of this old-timey folktale telling. Based on an old folk song it takes Bobbi Miller's delight with words and Will Hillenbrand's skill with a paintbrush to tell a tale worth telling well.

“...One Fine Trade makes one fine addition to any folktale and fairytale collection. American as apple pie and a great example of good old-fashioned storytelling.” ~ Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal

Illustration from One Fine Trade.

One Fine Trade

A traditional tale, freshly fashioned. ~School Library Journal

“Miller leads readers through the adventure with drama, humor and plenty of backwoods vernacular.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Miller employs a down-home diction that revels in its orality… This a natural for either telling or reading.” ~Kirkus Review

“Miller's ...lyrical text takes on a fitting countrified voice, and Hillenbrand's highly textured, action-filled paintings ...lead viewers from trade to trade.” ~BookList