The Mighty Miss Malone

The Mighty Miss Malone

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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In the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bud, Not Buddy, Bud met a girl named Deza Malone in a Hooverville. This is her story.
“We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.
“Witty and moving.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The fluidity of the writing, the strong sense of place and time combined with well-drawn characters will captivate and delight. . . . a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative. . . . Some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375897368
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 438,935
Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS is the bestselling author of Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Medal, among many other honors. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, was also singled out for many awards, among them a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Journey to Wonderful

“Once upon a time . . .”

If I could get away with it, that’s how I’d begin every essay I write.

Those are the four best words to use when you start telling about yourself because anything that begins that way always, always finishes with another four words, “. . . they lived happily everafter.”

And that’s a good ending for any story.

I shut my dictionary and thesaurus and went back over my essay for the last time.

The best teacher in the world, Mrs. Karen Needham, had given us a assignment to write about our families. I knew, just like always, she was going to love mine. She’d only asked for two pages but this was our last essay for the year, so I wrote six.

Once upon a time . . . in Gary, Indiana, lived a family of three very special, very happy and uniquely talented people. I am the fourth member of that family and much too modest to include myself in such a grandiose description of their exalted number. But many people say I am of the same ilk and for that I remain internally grateful.

My mother, Mrs. Margaret “Peggy” Sutphen Malone, was born here in Gary, Indiana. She is willowy and radiant and spell-blindingly beautiful. She is also very intelligent. She has a great job cleaning for the Carsdale family. Yes, that Carsdale family! The family whose patriarch is the president of the Gary Citizens’ Bank.

Her most endearing trait is that she is the glue holding this family together.


I jumped and my pencil flew out of my hand.

When I’m writing or reading a book, everything else around me disappears. Father says it’s because I’ve settled into what I’m doing, the same way my brother Jimmie does when he’s singing.

“Jimmie! I told you not to sneak up on me like that when I’m writing!”

He handed me the pencil. “I couldn’t help it, sis, you were so far gone. What’re you writing?”

“My last essay for Mrs. Needham.”

“You know, a lot of people are saying her not coming back to teach is the best thing that ever happened at Lincoln Woods School.”

“James Malone, if I ever give one-half a hoot what a lot of people are saying, you have my permission to slap me silly. Mrs. Needham is the best teacher in the world. Now, if you don’t mind. I never bother you when you’re singing, don’t bother me when I’m writing.”

“But lots of people love listening to me sing, Deza, seems to me like only you, that little pest Clarice Anne Johnson and Mrs. Needham like reading what you write.”

Jimmie is one of those people who can say something that might sound mean at first, but when he smiles and makes his eyebrows jump up and down you can’t help smiling. He gets this deep, deep dimple in his right cheek and you end up laughing right along with him.

My dearest friend, Clarice Anne Johnson, has a horrible and completely un-understandable crush on Jimmie. She says she bets you could pour cornflakes in his dimple and eat them out with a spoon.

I’m hoping Clarice’s taste in boys improves as she gets older.

“Jimmie, please.”

“Sorry, sis. I’m heading out, can I do anything for you before I split?”

“No, thanks. Just make sure you’re back for supper.”

I looked at Mrs. Needham’s instructions again. “What is the most annoying trait of some of your family members?”

That was easy to come up with for Father and Jimmie, but I couldn’t think of a single annoying trait for Mother. I wrote:

Mother’s pet peeve is that she hates the way a lot of people are mean to Jimmie for no reason.

Her dreams are to see Father get a job where he doesn’t always get laid off, for Jimmie to start growing again and be happy and to watch me graduate from college and be a teacher.

My father, Mr. Roscoe Malone, was born in a village in Michigan called Flint, which is geologically located 250 miles northeast of Gary. For some reason that none of us can understand he is very proud of this. He is tall and strikingly handsome, he’s also intelligent and well-read.

He toils and labors mostly for the Company doing work in a horribly hot furnace and sometimes being a janitor.

His most annoying trait is the way he uses alliteration every chance he has.

I looked up from my paper. That is so true, but I wondered for a minute if I should put it in the essay. It isn’t like he can help himself.

He always calls me his Darling Daughter Deza, and I’m supposed to answer that he is my Dearest Delightful Daddy. He calls Jimmie the Genuine, Gentle Jumpin’ Giant, and Jimmie’s supposed to call him his Fine Friendly Father Figure. Father also calls Mother the Marvelous Mammalian Matriarch, but she says she won’t respond because she refuses to play silly word games with such a “hardheaded husband who hasn’t heard how horrible he is.”

Mother told me, “Such nonsense is in the blood of the Malones and you should be happy that so far it looks like you haven’t inherited any of it.”

She says Jimmie is a different story.

I tapped the pencil on my teeth. I know it’s rude and disloyal to discuss family business with other people, but Mrs. Needham says good writing is always about telling the truth.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book of 2012

Kirkus Reviews Best Teen's Book of 2012

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
“Deza is one great heroine in her own right, a fitting literary companion to Bud Caldwell.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011:
“Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Mighty Miss Malone 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
*Enjoyable leisure time/silent sustained reading time novel. *The concept of the "bad brain" was well-developed and fascinating. Deza and her family offer the readers a great "journey" back in time to the era of the Great Depression in the United States of America and how that time impacted on individual families. As a reader you should be able to "enter" Deza's world by way of your imagination with all of the details the author gives and "see" the world as the protagonist does. Also, you should feel a range of emotions as you read Deza's story. *A quality piece of fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutly loved this book! It was so inspiring to read the struggles of The Mighty Miss Malone. The pain that she must have suffered!!! I don't understand how she could stand it all! Iwould definetly recommend this delightful book!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great book, and it was a very moving story!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i was in class my teacher told me about this book and it sounded interesting. In this book its about a family planing a trip to wonderfull but when her dad leaves he never comes back and the same with her brother when he goes and looks for him and i was trying ro do this whithout giving the book away. The age group for this book whould be 10- 12 because their is some bad parts. I liked this book because thier is alot of action and mystery. I hope u like this book. Just a little to exspensive. HAPPY READING
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has everything, values, educational example and dealing with peers. If you enjoyed this book, I highly recommend The Two Clever series by Julia E. Antoine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great story that let's children know what hardship many colored people went through and it reminds us of what we did. I can never put this book down no matter how many times I read it! This book is full of laughs and tears. I recommend this book from ages ten and up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totally adore this book!!!!!!!! It was full adventure and it really inspried me!!!! This book is a musr read!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Miss Deza is also from Bud Not Buddy.. (Deza is the first girl Buddy " shared slobber" with. Both books are very wonderful, and create powerful emotions from readers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We had to read this book in class and it was awesome. If you are african amaerican this book is really touching. Before you read any other book,YOU NEED TO READ THIS ONE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book I pesonally have ever read by far!!!¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great accomplishment by Mr. Curtis! I hope that The Mighty Miss Malone becomes a perminent required reading for 5-7th grades.
ref27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very like Bud, Not Buddy: rundown but determined young protagonist, miserable life circumstances alleviated by the power music (and it's power to make money), and authentic period details about place and poverty. Joe Louis subplot mostly effective, and a wonderful glimpse at an important American moment.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Deza Malone's biggest concern is getting straight A+'s on her schoolwork until her father is in a boating accident and she learns that their family will have to move to Flint, Michigan in the hopes that he can find work. Finding work is not an easy proposition for an African American man in 1936, the throes of the Great Depression. As Deza finds out, the best-laid plans oft go awry. But Deza won't let anything dampen her spark. The book started off slowly, but it picked up when the family left Gary. I'm not entirely convinced about the female voice - I found Deza obnoxious instead of funny for the first half of the book, but as she started to grow up a little and there was more action in the plot, the voice worked better for me. Mr. Curtis makes a great point in the second half of the book about kids seeing themselves in the stories they read. I know just the young lady I want to hand this book to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good. Good. Good. Great Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is beautifully written, has characters with depth and complexity, and follows a very real issue in our country's history. Deza is independent at
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Point of view= awesomeness -S.T.H. ,age 11
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really great book that has some nice plot twists. Especially fun to read if you have read Bud, Not Buddy but if you haven't it still is a great read. If you like other books by this author you will love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book good? I've gotta read it for BOB and I rather get it from the library if it sucks than spend my money and keep it Ps people that dont know if the book is good at least give it three stars dont be rude.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep fighting Deza!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you think this book would be good to read if you have read Bud, Not Buddy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a good book so get it.