Kerry Madden and I have a lot in common.
We write children's books.
We love the Smoky Mountains.
We have been to the Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama.
I loved the first two books in her Smoky Mountain (Maggie Valley) trilogy: Gentle's Holler and Louisiana's Song.
I just finished the third and (sniff sniff) last book of the trilogy: Jessie's Mountain.
Honestly, it was like visiting an old friend. I have grown to love and adore the Weems family of Maggie Valley. Kerry is a master of characterization - each and every member of that family is unique - from annoying little Jitters to grumpy old Grandma Horace to my favorite: the ever resourceful Livy Two.
I love Livy's feisty spirit and her observations about the people she encounters on her trip to Nashville to pursue her dream and save her family: the woe-is-me lady, Mr. Fancy Mustache Clerk, the devil-dog man.
Kerry's love of the mountains and her respect and admiration of the good-hearted mountain people is evident. She draws on her personal experience in her beloved mountains and takes us right along with her in her stories.
AND, you gotta love an author who writes this in her Acknowledgments:
When I first began to write Gentle's Holler, the first of the three Smoky Mountain books, I wrote it snappy, sappy, and sent it out lightning speed, hoping for a book deal yesterday.
Don't you just love that?
Now we gotta all start nagging Kerry to write more stories about the Weems.
You can find out more about Kerry here.