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Home > Mary Calhoun Brown

Recent Reviews for Mary Calhoun Brown

There Are No Words (Book) - 2/3/2010 5:45:46 PM
There are no words By: Susan Pettrone Jaxton MacKenzie is a mute. She lives in a small town with her grandparents, her mother having left her there under the auspices of not being able to care for her or perhaps not caring for a daughter who is mute. But not is all that it seems with Jaxton, she is a literate child, in fact, she doesn't even remember NOT knowing how to read. She listens intently to those around her who usually ignore her as if she weren't there except for her grandparents Sarah and Dewey MacKenzie. Jaxton is exceptionally attached to her Grandfather, Dewey MacKenzie. There is a bond between them that cannot be denied and it grows even deeper as her grandfather tells her tales of his childhood. Though most of the tales are happy ones, one in particular, is especially sad and touches Jaxton's heart. It is the day her grandfather's best friend Oliver Pack was saved and 121 persons killed with 57 injured in one of the worst train collisions in history. Though Oliver was a negro, and his friendship with Dewey was frowned upon by many, it was a deep sincere friendship and Dewey never forgot the day his friend died with others on their way to word at a gunpowder plant. Jaxton spends much of her day wandering, humming to herself or just absorbing the world around her. One day as she lay on the couch looking at a painting her uncle had painted, she thinks she sees movement. But that can't be! Paintings can't move. One night though, Jaxton cannot sleep and she creeps downstairs to look at her uncles painting that she likes so well. But the painting has changed. Not only is the sky a deeper blue but there is a girl in the painting who says, "Come with us, we've been waiting for you." reaches out her hand and Jaxton steps into the painting and into another time altogether. Jaxton finds herself thrust back into time to the era where Sarah, Dewey and Oliver spend their days in 1918 enjoying each others company. But that is not the best part of the travel Jaxton has made. She finds she can speak since stepping through the painting. She is thrilled to be able to communicate with her new friends and though she enjoys their time together, she is troubled with knowledge that is just beyond her grasp of comprehending. She knows something is going to happen but she hasn't quite put the pieces together yet. As time goes on, the day comes when Oliver and his cousin George Scott board the train to go to the gunpowder plant to work. Jaxton helps Sarah with a heavy heart prepare sandwiches for them, all the time, knowing that if they board that train, they will die in the crash. Saying Good-bye to Oliver and George, it suddenly comes to Jaxton that this is the very train that Oliver will die in, that Dewey is her grandfather and Sarah her Grandmother. She knows she cannot let Oliver die, so she makes her way onto the train to convince him to leave before it is too late. As she is a white girl, she makes quite a scene when she goes through the all black cars. As these things always do, the children are caught by Mr. Corbitt who asks for their tickets, stalling for time, they spy a grassy place alongside the track and they jump. But what about Oliver? They can't leave him after all they've been through. Jaxton and Dewey begin to run as though their lives depended upon it. But it isn't their lives, it is the life of their friend Oliver. Dewey reaches the train first but is hurt trying to grab hold of the back of the train and Jaxton takes over the lead, reaching the back of the train only to see Oliver reach out his hand to her to help her aboard. Instead, Jaxton grabs Olliver and with a mighty heave, pulls him from the train. Moments later, they hear the sound of a mighty crash and they know instinctively there has been a crash. They rush to the wreck and begin to help as best they can. But it is a disaster like none they have ever seen. The wooden cars which housed the negroes are all but gone. Blood and gore are everywhere and there seems as though there will be no one left alive. Mr. Corbitt was found amongst the rubble and declared dead, only to revive hours later on the morticians table. It was a miracle and though he later lost his leg, he commented, "Better than losing' my life!" This book is one that makes the reader look at lives of others I a whole different light while it adds a bit of whimsy and “what if” to round it out. I suggest this book for readers of all ages, and especially those who want a more positive book about autism than they have previously read. It is a “keeper” in every sense of the word.

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