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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
It’s the late 1940s in Springfield, Kentucky. Drummer and Bug are sent to their granddaddy’s sharecropper spot of land to spend the summer. Their parents had separated and the two young boys were apart from their other siblings. That didn’t stop the two from having a grand time on the farm. Both fun-loving boys set for a bit of adventure, they fitted into the rural community with ease. As long as they spruced up to attend church on Sunday, they were pretty much left on their own to run about the farm, play with the animals, and visit neighboring children of their age. Unlike many siblings, Drummer and Bug develop a lasting bond, best friends for the most part. The mystery behind certain members of the family, especially their Uncle Ron Ed, have them sneaking around, eavesdropping when the plot thickens. It’s a complicated time for two boys separated from their parents and their siblings and learning, piece by piece, that all is not well in their extended family unit.
Amarius Reed’s middle-grade novel, Pride of the Bluegrass, is a comfortable read. Told in the first-person narrative from Drummer’s point of view, this is a heartwarming story, much like the classic Tom Sawyer series set a hundred years earlier. The dialogue is filled with the vernacular, using the dialect typical of the rural Kentucky area. This gives the story a warm sense of place, setting the stage for authenticity. There is some descriptive narrative, but most of the story is very effectively dialogue-driven. The characters are realistic for the era and place and the young reader will definitely associate with their quirks and insatiable curiosity. This is a sweet story that will stand the test of time, a classic in its own right.