Thursday, January 15, 2009

Katie John



Does anyone remember the Katie John series by Mary Calhoun? As far as I know, there were four books:

  • Katie John -10-year-old Katie John Tucker and her parents move from California to Barton's Bluff, Missouri. Great-Aunt Emily died and left a huge old house to Katie's mother, and the Tucker family will live there until they can sell it. Katie gradually gets used to small-town life, makes friends, gets into a lot of scrapes, and begins to dread the day they will return to California. In the end, Katie's parents decide to stay in the old house and rent the extra rooms to borders.

  • Depend On Katie John - Katie's adventures continue. She and her best friend Sue try different money-making ventures to raise money so they can go see the movie Little Women. Katie makes friends with Edwin, the "odd boy" in her class. She gets a dog (beagle?) that she names Heavenly Spot.

  • Honestly, Katie John! - Katie is now in the sixth grade, and things are changing too fast for her. The girls seem to like boys, lipstick and movie actors, much to her disgust. Katie tries to deal with this by rebelling and ends up a pariah for a while. Highly imaginative, she finds an old house on one of her solitary hikes, and a picture of a young girl she decides was named Etta. Comforted, she relies on this image for a while to figure how and where she fits in at school and home.

  • Katie John And Heathcliff - I haven't read this one, but Katie's in junior high. Last of the series. I didn't know there was a fourth one until just recently.

Katie John is by turns, wise and clumsy and mercurial. She has a tendency to go off half-cocked and often ends up in some mortifying but hilarious situations. Author Mary Calhoun had a gift for characterization; Katie just leaps off the page.

If you see this series at a book sale or in the children's/YA of your library, check it out.

13 comments:

raidergirl3 said...

hmm, it seems to twig something in me, but the descriptions aren't familiar. Is there an AA Milne poem with 'Honestly Katie John' in it?
Katie John sounds familiar. I'll have to ask my sister why I remember that. She keeps our memories:)

jenclair said...

I'm not familiar with the series, but I'm always looking for books my niece might enjoy. Thanks, Bybee!

Sue F. said...

Thanks for posting about this series...I don't remember reading it, but it sounds like something that my oldest granddaughter would like!

Bybee said...

raidergirl3,
I didn't know that about AA Milne. I'll have to look it up.

Jenclair,
Katie John seems very real. You're welcome.

Sue F.,
I would recommend Katie to almost anyone.

Sam Sattler said...

These sound perfect for my fourth grade granddaughter. She's always looking for something new...can barely keep up with her anymore.

Thanks.

Tara said...

I never did hear of these, but I sure do remember that old cover style so fondly.

Robin said...

Oh my ... I have some very vague memories from waaay-back-when of Katie John! I will have to search her out again!

Suzy said...

I'm 47, and I just finished reading Katie John and Heathcliff for the first time today. I loved the series so much as a child, and it was such a treat to find that there was a 4th book (published in 1980, but written in the same sweet, innocent style of the 3 earlier books). This one is about Katie's first crush and how it works itself out. I close the book smiling, and wishing Katie John, fictional though she is, a long and happy life.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Katie John series and would recommend it to young readers. They will no doubt find it quaint, written in the days before PC's, iPods, and cell phones. The last book, "Katie John and Heathcliff" came out long after the first three. I had outgrown the series by then and didn't enjoy the fourth book very much.

allison said...

Katie John books were my favorites when I was in 3rd and 4th grades. Now I'm ... oops, 52, and I still have fond memories of them. They were not "exciting" enough for the students I teach. Society has changed.

Scott G. said...

All four are wonderful books, very real. The last, Katie John and Heathcliff, was written several years after the others, and reflects a more modern sensibility (now there are shopping malls in Katie's small town). Also, Priscilla Simmons, the girl with whom Katie had a contentious relationship in the earlier books, becomes an ally and friend.

Pat Deneen said...

I found this post because out of nostalgia I googled Katie John. I read these books over and over when I was young. I was about the same age as Katie John and could really identify with her. Thanks for reminding me about what a great little series of books this was.

Unknown said...

Katie John, Caddie Woodlawn, A Lantern In Her Hand. All young girls should read these.