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Set in the 1920s, with shades of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (prejudice and courtroom drama in the USA) and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie stories (proud, hardworking country family, much loved disabled sibling), this is a thoroughly enjoyable, old fashioned tale with modern sensibilities. The spirited North Carolina dialect draws you in from the opening pages and Dovey is a wonderful character, sassy, honest and wise. Her deaf brother Amos, is a bit of a second fiddle character but O'Roark Dowell's heart is in the right place and he plays an important part in the conclusion of the story. 12-year Dovey Coe's strong opinions often get her into trouble, particularly when she speaks her mind about local no-good rich boy Parnell who thinks he can buy the affections of her beautiful sister Caroline but who is foul to Dovey and 13-year-old Amos. Unlike Caroline, Dovey never wants to leave the mountain home her grandfather built in 1844 and would happily roam the mountains all day with Amos and his dogs. But when Caroline publicly rejects Parnell's marriage proposal, things turn nasty, especially when he threatens to get Amos sent away. Covey tries to stop him when she finds him trying to kill Amos' dog, but receives a beating herself. When she wakes up from this she finds Parnell lying dead by her side and is accused of his murder. If the National Curriculum and school funding allowed it, this would make a good shared reader for Years 6 or 7 - the ending provides an interesting moral dilemma. The book itself has an unusual square-ish format and is a pleasure to hold in your hands.