Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1481458429

Cover Illustration by Emma Trithart

Being responsible is NOT easy.

Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

Tremendous voice, humor, and heart make this debut novel utterly lovable.


A humorous, poignant, realistic debut story about a very responsible little girl who’s a “force of nature.  – Kirkus Reviews

Gray brings Vilonia’s small Mississippi town to vibrant life, creating a cast of warm, eccentric inhabitants and traditions, including the annual Catfish Festival. Vilonia’s amusing scrapes serve to counterbalance the seriousness of her mother’s condition. – Publishers Weekly

A heartfelt read filled with nuanced characters… a fast-paced adventure with a very human story. School Library Journal

Awards & Honors:

Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2018

Texas Horned Toads Tales List 2018-2019

Triple Crown Award Nominee 2019-2020

Arkansas State Gem List 2019

Kansas NEA Reading Circle Intermediate Title


The real Vilonia Crushers