The Babbs Switch Story by Darleen Bailey Beard

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A novel told in a strong Southern voice

Ruth Ann Tillman loves to sing, especially the solo in the annual Babbs Switch, Oklahoma, Christmas Tree Celebration. And no matter what Elden Larrs says teasingly, she’s good. But this year, 1924, Mom and Pop won’t let Ruthie perform. The problem is Daphne, her sister. At sixteen, four years older than Ruthie, Daphne still carries her one-armed, bald-headed doll for comfort and reaches out to stroke anything soft and soothing. When she almost smothers Mrs. Larrs’s baby this way, Mom and Pop know they’re in trouble – and that Ruthie had better not appear on the schoolhouse stage. Ruthie is indignant. Why does she have to share her life with such an oddball sister? Christmas Eve arrives, and Ruthie goes to the celebration, even though she can’t participate, and even though “daffy” Daphne is at her side. At least she can see Elden. Then the schoolhouse catches fire, as it really did on that night in Babbs Switch, and Ruthie discovers what her sister means to her.

Inspired by a tragedy, Darleen Bailey Beard’s tribute to Babbs Switch is nonetheless filled with humor and warmth and the charm of first romance.

About Darleen Bailey Beard

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Darleen Bailey Beard is the author of The Flimflam Man, which has appeared on several state award reading lists, and Twister. She lives with her son and daughter in Norman, Oklahoma.
Published April 10, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 176 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Babbs Switch Story

Kirkus Reviews

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Basing her story on a real tragedy in the town of Babbs Switch, Oklahoma, Beard enlivens and enlarges events by using 12-year-old Ruth Ann’s voice.

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Publishers Weekly

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When Daphne comes close to killing the Larrses' baby, Elizabeth, Ruthie and her parents are appalled and worried, and Ruthie is kept from performing in the Christmas Tree Celebration.

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