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Blue Ridge Billy

post written by Emma Filbrun

Blue Ridge Billy by Lois LenskiTitle: Blue Ridge Billy
Author: Lois Lenski
Major Themes: Appalachians, Mountain Life, North Carolina
Synopsis: Billy Honeycutt does his best to earn enough money to buy a banjo—but his father has other ideas.

We have really been enjoying Lois Lenski’s books about children in different regions of the United States. Of course, by now these stories are not only about regional differences, but also about differences between the time in which they were written and the present! Though Blue Ridge Billy and some of Lenski’s other stories were first published in the 1940s, they are still quite interesting to my children.

Billy Honeycutt lives in a remote cove of the North Carolina mountains, near the Tennessee border. He dreams of earning money to buy himself a banjo so he can make the music his heart craves, but his father can’t sympathize with that desire. Music won’t put food on the table! Billy finds himself at odds with his father and trying to help people his father is trying to chase out of the area. How can they ever resolve their differences?

Many subjects are touched on in this story—moonshining, hunting, farming, and herb gathering, among others. You’ll get a detailed picture of life in the Appalachians and have more sympathy for the people who eke out a living there. You’ll also laugh, at scenes like the store that turned around on its foundation.

I liked the ending of the story. The way the family related to each other in the first part of the book was not ideal, but there was steady improvement as the story unfolded.

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