Son of the Valley by John R. Tunis
New York : William Morrow & Company, 1949. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. 192 pages ; 22 cm. $2.50 dust jacket with a large rip to the back of the dust jacket that causes a sizeable fold. The dust jacket is intact and whole. Yellow cover boards with blue title on front and spine. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
Son of the Valley By JOHN R. TUNIS
The farm at Cat Creek had belonged to the Heiskell family ever since the first Heiskell crossed over from North Carolina to Tennessee in colonial times. In the 1930's, young Johnny Heiskell and his family still lived there, although each year less cotton grew on the worn-out land and buying enough food to stay alive was more and more difficult. But Cat Creek was home to the Heiskells. Then came the great Tennessee Valley Authority dams, and the Heiskells' farm was in a region due to be flooded. TVA would provide them with another farm, neither better nor worse than the old one, but their grief and resentment over losing their home turned into cold anger against the government and everything it stood for.
Johnny alone was curious as well as angry. He wanted to know about the new ways of fanning taught by the county agent and what connection there was between the TVA dam and possible improvement of the miserable Heiskell acres. Gradually his anger changed to whole-hearted cooperation. He was violently opposed by the neighbors, with their old-fashioned ideas, and even by his own father. He had to shoulder a load of responsibility heavier than any sixteen-year-old should carry and it almost broke him.
This stirring, deeply felt narrative shows the development of a man and a fine one.
In 1936 JOHN R. TUNIS was on the sports staff of The New York Evening Post, was broadcasting championship tennis matches from Forest Hills and Wimbledon, and had been publishing articles in leading American magazines for fifteen years. Then he wrote Iron Duke, a novel about Harvard which won the 1938 New York Herald Tribune award for the best boys' book of that spring. In 1940 The Kid from Tomkinsville, his first baseball novel, appeared and in 1942 a football story, All-American, one of his most popular books. Since then he has published nine more, including The Kid Comes Back and Highpockets.
This photograph, taken recently in the Bakersfield, California, High School, suggests why Mr. Tunis is now writing entirely for young people, attempting to report and interpret aspects of life in the United States in terms of their experience and understanding. Most of his novels have been based on characters he has observed and events he has covered as a sportswriter. Son of the Valley, however, is about a Tennessee boy and the Tennessee Valley Authority, called by John Gunther "the biggest contribution the United States has yet made to society in the modern world."
Photograph taken by Avery Allen, Bakersfield, California, High School, and used with the kind permission of E. Ben Evans, County Superintendent of Libraries, Kern County, California.
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