Ruth White

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

A funny and moving story set in Kentucky

It’s the beginning of summer 1955, and though her family is struggling financially, Carolina’s mama still indulges her four daughters’ whims, like springing for all of them to get permanents. Each of her older sisters seems to have cut out a niche for herself, but Carolina Collins is still trying to find her own special place in life. The girls’ hardship is softened by the sudden appearance of their favorite cousin, Tadpole, a charismatic thirteen-year-old with a knack for guitar playing. Tad sees in Carolina a spirit and talent that no one has noticed before, and he predicts that she “is gonna surprise everybody one of these days.” The Collinses soon learn the real reason for Tad’s visit, however, and the weeks that follow are filled with dread that his abusive guardian will come and take him away.

But Tad is not the sort of boy to succumb to a bully, and he and Carolina both have surprises in store for everyone.

A Junior Library Guild Selection Tadpole is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


Read an Excerpt

1ONE DAY IN JUNE, Mama found this ad in the paper: permanent waves one $ Sat morn come early. And there was an address for a boardinghouse on Bee Street in Riverbend."It's the only way we'll ever get curly hair," Mama proclaimed, "and don't my girls deserve to look as good as the town girls do?"We agreed that it was so. Mama's girls deserved such a treat. So on Saturday morning we got up early and walked to the highway to catch the eight o'clock bus into town.Striding tall in front of Mama, Kentucky led the way. She was fourteen that summer of 1955, the oldest and most popular of the


Praise for Tadpole

"White skillfully re-creates the time and place, and her superbly drawn characters possess the resiliency of spirt necessary to transform themselves." --Starred, School Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ruth White

  • Ruth White is the author of many books, including Belle Prater’s Boy, a Newbery Honor Book, and Memories of Summer, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.
  • Ruth White Photo by Beth Agresta


Available Formats and Book Details


Ruth White

Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List, NCTE Notable Child. Bks in Lang. A, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, NYPL Books for the Teen Age, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
  • e-Book