Awards | Nominations

Featured author on the California Readers Website 2008

2006 PEN Literary Award Finalist in the category of Children’s Literature

A New York Public Library Pick for the 100 Books in 2005

One of the Chicago Public Library’s 2005 Best of the Best Bibliography

Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2005

Maine Book Award Nomination, 2006

Schneider Award Nomination, ALA, 2005

2006 SIBA Children's Book Award Finalist, 2006

Mark Twain Nomination, MO Assn of School Librarians, 2007

Young Hoosiers Nominee, Indiana, 2008

Publishers Weekly, starred review

 “At the center of Madden’s tender novel (her first for children) about a poor and loving family in the mountains of 1960s North Carolina, is 11-year old “Livy Two.” … Just when things start to look up… tragedy hits and the family digs even deeper for the grace and strength to heal differences and go on. Along with an assortment of affecting family members—particularly Grandma Horace with her collection of glass eyes, and Uncle Hazard the dog—Livy Two will burrow deeply into the hearts of young readers.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

In her debut for young readers, Madden creates a warmhearted, compelling family drama about the Weems, circa early 1960s…. Told from the keen-eyed point of view of 11-year-old Livy Two, one of nine children (the tenth, Livy One, died at birth), the story is layered with details of their mountain life, their struggles, crises and day-to-day moments of joy… And there's humor too…. The graceful, spirited and, above all, sensory richness of the writing make this work stand out.” 


“In spite of the poverty and hardships, this is a family story that's full of love and delight. The parents have a visible, strong, working marriage, something often ignored in children's books. Their love and acceptance keep the children secure, even in their hunger, and gradually smoothes extended family members' rough edges. Taken individually, these characters are very human, but together they form a strong unit that will help readers understand what it means to be a family.”

School Library Journal

“The 1960’s and the Great Smoky Mountains come to life in this tale of family and friendship by Kerry Madden….  Livy’s narration rings true and is wonderfully voiced, and Madden's message about the importance of forgiveness will be well received…. Move over, John-Boy Walton – the author has plans for two more books set in Maggie Valley.” 

Children’s Literature

“The book is strong in mountain voice, family warmth, and well-rounded characters.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The rough-and-tumble warmth of a large family, the dreams of a young artist, and the persistence of love and faith in hard times recommend this big-hearted novel to multiple audiences. Recommended.”

The Horn Book

“Madden leavens the hardship of poverty in Appalachia with a joie de vivre the family maintains even through tragedy.  Recommended.”

Betsy Byars, Newberry Medal-winning author of THE SUMMER OF THE SWANS

“Kerry Madden, like her heroine Livy Two, has a rare gift for words. From page one she makes the reader care deeply about this warm and compelling mountain family. The book is rich in detail about their simple pleasures and their trials. I loved the family and the book.”

Audrey Couloumbis, Newberry Medal-winning author of GETTING NEAR TO BABY

“This book is filled with the kind of characters we all fall in love with, and the story glows with warm and tender feelings that are ultimately what we all hope to instill in our children.” 

Rosemary Wells, author of MARY ON HORSEBACK

“This book is the genuine article. Its lively humor and mountain poverty are married flawlessly. Its heroine, Livy Two, is as bone-real and as endearing as Kate DiCamillo’s Opal in BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE.”

Amy Goldman Koss, author of THE GIRLS

“Country life is as unfamiliar to me as life on Mars, but with Livy Two as my guide, I found it fascinating. I trusted her completely.  And I would have happily followed her anywhere. I envy anyone who has yet to meet her for the first time.”

Jennifer Donnelly, winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for A NORTHERN LIGHT

“Visit Gentle’s Holler… and you won’t ever want to leave. Both heartfelt and heartbreaking, GENTLE’S HOLLER is a story of music, mountains and the everyday magic of love. It’s a story that’s rich and true… the rambunctious Weems clan will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

The Tennessean

“Pure Southern magic that should delight all readers.”

The Advocate, Baton Rouge

“A timeless story that offers a lesson for all readers.”


“[The Weems] form a strong unit that will help readers understand what it means to be a family.” 

Pasadena Star News

“Young readers will learn here about their own American roots in a time of storytelling and songwriting.”

Kutztown University Book Review

“In this book, the father chases an impossible dream and the mother tries to multitask. They have many kids of all different ages and sizes. Each kid has their own dreams of what he or she wants to do with his or her life. I really liked this book. Every time I read the chapters in the book I could really see who the characters were. All the characters were unique. I recommend this book for any middle school library.”

The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews

“This novel captures the spirit and heart of the North Carolina hills and its people. It is set in the 1960s and is true to both the time and the place…. This story will tug at your heart strings and will fill you with laughter all at the same time. It will be a good read for dog story lovers and for those students interested in bluegrass music. I recommend this book for school libraries.”