Focus on the Family

Maudie in the Middle

A book review for parents

This family life book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Lura Schield Reynolds is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Books and is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Maudie, whose only claim to fame is being born in the year 1900, is stuck as a middle child in her family. The three older siblings get to do exciting things, and her three younger ones get all the attention. Maudie craves her parents' recognition, but her tendency toward bad behavior often earns her the wrong kind of notice. Only after her uncle dies and her parents are forced to spend a month away from home does Maudie grow into her own unique role in the family.

Christian Beliefs

Maudie's family regularly attends church, sings hymns for enjoyment, has family devotions and invites church people — such as the preacher and his wife — over for Sunday dinner. When the church has its annual foot-washing ceremony (complete with the Lord's Supper re-enactment), Maudie decides this is her opportunity to be forgiven and to start being a better child. She talks about humbling herself as Jesus did with His disciples. Though Maudie accidentally sleeps through the ceremony, Mother washes her feet at home, and Maudie feels forgiven. Their denomination isn't mentioned, but Maudie talks with one of her brothers about how they are baptized when they're 12.

Authority Roles

Maudie's mother and father work long, hard hours and do their best to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of their seven children. Aunt Sylvie, who lives with the family, often gives Maudie the special attention she craves. Miss Richardson, the town's teacher, is Maudie's role model. She's attentive to her students and makes Maudie feel good about her abilities. Brother and Sister Bliss, the minister and his wife, often compliment Maudie and her siblings on their behavior in church. Maudie compares herself to Sister Bliss and feels she could never be that good.

Other Belief Systems

Maudie names the family's new foal Lucky because it was lucky to be alive after its mother died giving birth to it.

Profanity/Graphic Violence

Father says dang once.





Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.