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My first published novel:

***** SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant (Letter of Merit)

***** Starred Review - Booklist  "McDowell reveals her love for this part of the world, savoring the language, the environment, and the traditions of mountain culture. Thoughtful readers will come to love it, and Carolina, too."

***** Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth - Booklist Online


***** Kirkus Reviews  "Impressive debut. Carolina's feisty spirit, forged in the mountain ways of faith and flexibility, helps her make her way to another special place that she can call home."

***** School Library Journal "McDowell's prose reads easily and creates a wonderful sense of place."

"A masterful intertwining of place and character."  – Patricia MacLachlan, author of the Newbery Award Winner Sarah, Plain and Tall


Love from a book reviewer: "This charming, engaging novel seems destined to become a multi-generational classic, like a cross between "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Pippy Longstocking." I did not want the book to end. . . and look forward to the next work by this gifted author. The story is at once meditative and riveting, with a dramatic plot that leaves room to savor a summer pace of an earlier time, when people of all ages found satisfaction in the work of their hands and the abundance of the natural world. Especially moving to me is the way that the narrative invites the reader into the homes and hearts of characters of different cultures, races and social classes, creating trust and a spirit of inter-dependence before divulging identifying characteristics that could evoke prejudice or fear. The novel deals with difficult issues of loss, fear and meaninglessness and has left me feeling more hopeful and courageous. The protagonist is richly drawn, with a complex inner life. While her day to day struggles are familiar, her vitality and courage are extraordinary and invite the reader to grow in faith and courage. This book feels like a treasure, with many insights that can sustain young girls moving toward the challenges of adolescence in an increasingly complex society."


From the book:

     Carolina reached up and felt the wood carving she wore as a pendant. She rubbed her finger over its wings and its tail, feeling where her daddy had made the cuts and where he'd sanded it smooth.

      "I've a present for you, Carolina. It's a catbird, case you couldn't tell."

     She remembered that clear June night when they were camping up near Grandfather Mountain.

      "Lift your hair so I can tie a knot in the cord."

     She remembered leaning into the crook of his shoulder and gazing into the night sky with the campfire crackling and blazing before them. Balls of white fire trailing ribbons streaked across a black sky. Told Daddy what Miss Ruby said about shooting stars, how they were angels lighting the way for souls on their way to Heaven.

     Carolina rubbed the tip of her finger over the catbird's beak. Her daddy had carved it open, as if it was singing.