My Louisiana Sky By Kimberly Willis Holt About the Author • Kimberly Willis Holt was born on a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida. • Although as a child she lived in many different places (including Paris and Guam), she says that Forest Hill, Louisiana, was the only one that ever felt like home. • Looking back to her teen years, the author describes herself as a loner who usually had one or two friends. This is a trait shared by many of the characters of her books. • As a child, Mrs. Holt enjoyed reading books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Beverly Cleary as well as the story Little Women, which she read again and again. • However, the novel that inspired her to become a writer herself was Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which she describes as the first book in which the characters seemed real to her. Laura Ingalls Wilder Beverly Cleary Carson McCuller • At the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University, Mrs. Holt majored in Broadcast Journalism. However, she quit college as a senior and worked full time at a radio station, first in news and then in the sales department. • Her final job before becoming a writer was interior decorating. University of Louisiana • It was when Mrs. Holt moved to Amarillo, Texas, with her husband, Jerry, and daughter, Shannon, in 1994 that she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. • Her first book, My Louisiana Sky, was published in 1998. • The idea for the novel came from an experience that she had at the age of nine. • She was driving down a country road in Louisiana with her mother and commented on a woman walking by the roadside who had a strange look. Her mother explained that both the woman and her husband were mentally retarded and that they had several children. • The memory stayed with Holt and became the seed for her novel. • Kimberly Willis Holt has gained much recognition in a short period of time, as evidenced by the number of best-book lists on which her works have appeared, including the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Books and Best Books for Young Adults. • Holt’s third novel, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (Holt, 1999), earned her the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Book Summary • This coming-of-age story is set in a small town in Louisiana during the 1950s. • Tiger Ann is a straight A student whose parents are considered “slow” by the people of Saitter. • This is an embarrassment, as she recognizes the fact that her parents are often a source of amusement to the other members of their community. • Tiger is grateful for the loving, practical guidance of her grandmother, with whom the family lives, as she faces these new feelings of shame and attempts to sort them out. • To further complicate matters, Aunt Dorie Kay, who lives in the larger city of Baton Rouge, is very different from Tiger’s mother, Corrina. • Tiger views her aunt as the epitome of sophistication and idolizes her. • Tiger must deal with other issues common to adolescence ,as well. • She is a star batter and loves to play baseball with her best friend, Jessie Wade, and the other boys. • However, she longs to be part of the clique that surrounds Abbie Lynn Anders, the prettiest and wealthiest girl in town. • Abbie and her friends reject Tiger. To add to the discomfort and confusion, Jessie Wade suggests that he would like to be more than just friends. • Later, shaken by death and confusion, Tiger considers her Aunt Dorie Kay’s offer to live with her in Baton Rouge. • On a visit to her aunt’s apartment, she enjoys the luxury and excitement of the city. • She is attracted to the idea of leaving her problems behind and “reinventing” herself. • While in Baton Rouge, Tiger discovers secrets of the past that uncover some of the mystery surrounding her family. • Upon returning home for the remainder of the summer, Tiger is able to reach an understanding with Jessie Wade. • She begins to sort out her conflicting emotions. • When an unexpected hurricane hits the town, Tiger recognizes the love her family shares and realizes Saitter is her true home. • As the summer ends, Tiger discovers that Abbie Lynn has fears of her own. • This understanding changes their once-difficult relationship. • She is filled with pride for her father, whose quick thinking during the hurricane has made him a local hero. • Tiger recognizes the fact that there are many different forms of intelligence, and that all forms deserve respect. My Louisiana Sky Credits Matlack, Maria. "About the Author." A Guide for Using My Louisiana Sky in the Classroom: Based on the Novel Written by Kimberly Willis Holt. Westminster, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2002. 6. Print. Matlack, Maria. "My Louisiana Sky." A Guide for Using My Louisiana Sky in the Classroom: Based on the Novel Written by Kimberly Willis Holt. Westminster, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2002. 7. Print.