Katie John takes place in my home state, Missouri, but as a child I couldn’t have been less interested in that. I loved this book because of the interaction between tomboy Katie and her prim friend, Sue … because of the awesome setting--an old “haunted” house with speaking tubes and dumbwaiters … and because of Katie’s habit of impulsively rushing into things without thinking, which landed her in some wonderfully sticky situations.
Each chapter of Katie John is a story in itself, and in each, Katie gets involved in a different adventure. However, the book is not entirely episodic; the common thread through the book is that Katie and her parents are growing to love the old house they inherited, and are trying to find a way to keep it instead of having to sell it. In the end, Katie helps to find a solution that will allow her family to remain in Barton's Bluff.
- The main character: Katie is feisty and impatient--"headstrong", as their stuffy neighbor, Miss Crackenberry, says--but she is good-hearted and means well.
- The setting provides the opportunity for wonderful activities: Imagine riding in a dumbwaiter ... finding a (possibly human!) bone ... getting stuck in a covered bridge ... playing on a raft with the wild kids from the shacks down by the river ... and starting a secret, mysterious club called The Sign of the Black Hand.
- Humor: Whether she's throwing rotten eggs all over the yard, tricking crabby Miss Crankenberry, accidentally substituting soap flakes for sugar when making lemonade, or nearly setting the house on fire, Katie's misadventures are hilarious.
- Mood: Although Katie is usually dreaming up mischief, getting into trouble, or apologizing for her misdeeds, there is an honesty and warmth that runs through the book. For example, Katie is a royal pain to Sue's older sister, Janet ... but when Janet panics while getting ready for a dance, Katie is the one who reassures her that she looks beautiful.