I finished MOONCALF today, and I just wanted to say WOW! I'm impressed. First, because it was such a big undertaking. Second, because the writing is so good. So good, in fact, that I wish you had submitted it to be considered for a Newbery Medal! Did you? It seems that historical fiction is most likely to win, and your book would have been a strong contender.
I loved your marvelous details, your fresh metaphors, your realistic dialogue. I loved how you presented new information and then made connections throughout the story. I loved how you wove the information on orange groves throughout the book. I never lost interest. The story got better and better. I wanted to find out what happened.
I was sure I knew what the ending would be---Granny Mac was going to save the calf, and Leah's parents would be so grateful that their prejudice would melt away. Ha. I never expected the story would end as it did. Even though the ending was tragic, I was pleasantly surprised that my prediction proved wrong.
Your theme was important, and to your credit, you never came out and stated it for the reader. The fact that skin color was not recognizable after the fire, and that "Underneath it's all the same" said it all.
I wonder if you could get this book on the SUNSHINE STATE BOOK LIST that is used in Florida schools. I don't know a lot about it, except that all the kids want to read those books when I take classes to the library. Then there are AR books. Accelerated reader books. That's another list to get on. Kids take AR quizzes on computers at school after they read AR books. I have no idea who makes those lists. Big wigs sitting behind a desk somewhere? Librarians?
Again, I'm in awe of your accomplishment.
Have a nice Thanksgiving!
P.S. I hope you didn't really run behind a truck spraying DDT when you were little!