Friday, July 03, 2015


The year is 1948 and Tate P. Ellerbee is captivated by rising country star Hank Williams, tuning into his Louisiana Hayride radio program every week from Rippling Creek, Louisiana. So when her teacher assigns the class to choose a pen pal, she decides on Hank Williams without hesitation. Despite his lack of response (other than a few autographed photos), she writes him constantly and tells him all about her life and family, including her Aunt Patty Cake, Uncle Jolly, brother Frog, movie-star mama and world-travelling father, just for starters. Tate P. is also practicing her singing in secret for the upcoming May Festival Talent Contest, and wants to make her family, and the country star, proud. But the more letters she writes, the more secrets come to light, and it's clear that her picture perfect life isn't so perfect at all. Tate P. must come to terms with her family's truth and find enough grit to push forward and become more than just another sad country song. 

This poignant epistolary novel by National-Book-Award winner Kimberly Willis Holt features multi-layered characters, rich historical details of post World War II life in the rural South, some smiles and tears, and more than a few twists and turns.  

Dear Hank Williams makes a moving read for 4th grade and up. 

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