Theodore Roosevelt
Letters From a
Young Coal Miner.

Water Rat
"A good choice for readers who love plenty of action, a solid story." -School Library Journal, January 1999

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Written by Beth Nixon Weaver

The Horn Book Magazine, 7/1/2001
“Fifteen-year-old Kady has an unusual relationship with her neighbor Rooster, a boy who, deprived of oxygen at birth, is not ‘an ordinary thirteen-year-old.' Rooster trusts few people since his family barely escaped the Cuban revolution, but he believes Kady is his Madrina, or godmother, and ‘O Mighty Protector.' Though she first earned Rooster's trust by gently drawing him out, she now feels as trapped by his worship as she does by the rest of her life. . . . Each character in this well-crafted novel is made real; their distinct personalities and relationships are delineated by their actions. Florida's independent citrus farms and the burgeoning developments of the sixties are sharply realized.”

Publishers Weekly, 7/2/2001
"Set in the Vietnam era, this first novel adds come curves to the age-old theme of a teenage girl falling for the wrong boy. Fifteen-year-old Kady Palmer, who narrates the tale, wishes she could live in a house as grand and well-ordered as her prized Victorian doll house. Instead she lives with her parents, three sibling and grandmother in an orange grove in a tin-roofed, aqua blue "hovel." Her next-door neighbors, the Rosadas, are Cuban refugees. For years, Kady's only male companions have been Tony Rosada and his crazy 13-year-old brother, Rooster. But all that changes when rich, popular Jon wants Kady for his girlfriend. Seduced by Jon's good looks and expensive gifts, Kady is floating on cloud nine until a devastating accident--for which she is partially responisble--brings her crashing down to earth. Weaver offers a detailed picture of late 1960s Florida while contrasting the differences between Kady's two worlds, that of her imporverished parents and her carefree, spoiled boyfriend."

School Library Journal, 6/1/2001
“Kady is painfully aware of all the shortcomings she's been dealt in life: barely literate parents, an overcrowded house in a Florida orange grove; a senile grandmother; and a developmentally disabled neighbor, 13-year-old Rooster, who wrecks the one thing of which she's most proud and who worships her. . . . Depicting with historical accuracy the mix of naïveté and daring that marked youth culture at the end of the 1960s, this well-executed tale of a time, a place, and strong personalities closes in a satisfying manner.”