Cover image for Moonshine
Blackwood, Gary L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Tarrytown, N.Y. : Marshall Cavendish, 1999.
Physical Description:
158 pages ; 22 cm
During the Depression, in the Ozarks of Missouri, thirteen-year-old Thad has adventures selling moonshine and fishing with a rich visitor.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.3 6.0 44712.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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Times are hard in Pineville, Missouri. It is the Depression, and 13-year-old Thad and his mom are pretty much on their own. Still, Thad is generally satisfied. He doesn't need very much, and it helps that he expects even less. "There's nothing wrong with making wishes, as long as you don't expect them to necessarily come true." His friend, Willa, dreams of being an actress. His friend, Clem, hopes to play for the White Sox. Thad figures he'll do just fine as long as he has to answer only to himself -- and sometimes Momma. Roaming the Ozarks with his dog, catching fish or squirrels for supper, occasionally selling bootleg liquor....What more could he want? That is, until Harlan James comes to town with his nice clothes and fancy car, a proper rod and reel, and even his own twenty-two rifle. Suddenly Thad feels more confused than satisfied. In the past, when stretching the truth for one reason or another, he always kept a firm hold on the truth in his own mind. In this summer of discovery, Thad finds he doesn't even know the truth of his own feelings.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Thirteen-year-old Thad McCune excels at both kinds of "moonshine" --fabricating convincing stories and delivering illegal corn liquor to "touristers" in rural Missouri during the Depression. Abandoned by his father at birth, Thad and his waitress mother work hard to scrape by, so the liquor money helps. But Thad is soon warned by a deputy sheriff that he's under close surveillance. Harlan, an understanding tourister, becomes a father figure to Thad, and with his encouragement Thad undergoes a subtle transformation. When Thad offers to supply Harlan with whiskey, he sets events in motion that build to a gripping showdown at the secluded still. The story jumps off to a quick start, and despite exploration of several side issues, the pace never slackens. As Thad uncovers clues about his father, he and the reader arrive at the same surprising realization together. The deputy sheriff is broadly drawn, but all characters, even the bootlegger, are sympathetically presented. Containing similar story elements, this will be an interesting companion to Chap Reaver's Bill (1994). --Linda Perkins

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-A coming-of-age novel set in the Ozarks during the Depression. Fatherless Thad McCune, 13, proudly without ambition, is happy to roam the woods around his small town. He hunts (with nothing but rocks and a good aim) and fishes, and supplements his mother's tiny waitressing salary by serving as an "agent" for a reclusive moonshiner. As long as he has his dog and his good friend Willa to share his adventures, life seems sweet, and it offers the possibility of even greater sweetness when Harlan James, an apparently wealthy tourist, takes an interest in Thad and his mother. Unfortunately, the local deputy is also interested in Ms. McCune and in Thad's daytime activities: he suspects that the boy is "whiskey running," a job that Thad has never mentioned to his mother. With these plot elements in place, Blackwood moves forward confidently and with great skill, creating a period tone that falters only occasionally, and a narrative that pulls readers forward. True, the climax and subsequent resolution are conceptually cliched, and a few events strain credibility. But the emotional components of the final pages-Thad's reaction to learning who his father is and his sense of betrayal when Mr. James turns out to be a federal agent-are honest and Blackwood's telling is sure. Likewise, Thad's ability to find a way to rescue James when he is injured as well as to help the moonshiner escape reveals his true "goodness." Like Huckleberry Finn, he eschews the letter of the law for his own innate sense of justice, thus taking his first steps toward "grown-up" responsibility within society rather than withdrawing and going it alone.-Coop Renner, Moreno Elementary School, El Paso, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.