Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe

Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. is a juvenile novel published in 1974, written by Bette Evensky Greene and illustrated by Charles Lilly. It won a Newbery Honor Award in 1975, and, in 1977, it was the runner-up for the Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award.

Greene was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 28, 1934, and spent much of her childhood in Parkin (Cross County), where her parents owned a dry-goods store; she clerked there as she grew older. Her family moved to Memphis when she was thirteen, but she returned to Arkansas for summer camp at Hardy (Sharp County), passing through Pocahontas (Randolph County) on the way. While her first book, Summer of My German Soldier (1973), was set in her native Parkin, she set the story of her second novel, Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe., in Pocahontas, while the book also references Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) and Hardy.

Greene used first-person vignettes to tell the rural Arkansas adventures of eleven-year-old African-American farmgirl Beth Lambert and her crush and rival, Philip Hall, the boy from the next farm. Through these adventures, Beth learns the importance of good friendship, confronts turkey thieves, decides on a career, opens a vegetable stand to earn money for college, and enters a calf in the county fair. By the end of the book, Beth realizes she is smart, strong, and capable, and that it is okay to come first—even against a boy she likes.

The book was well received by several publications, including Booklist, Kirkus, the New York Times Book Review, and School Library Journal. Overall, reviewers found the book believable, lighthearted, and humorous, and its themes of self-discovery and first love timeless. Reviewers described Greene’s realistic writing style as warm and deceptively casual, ringing true with readers. They found Beth resourceful, bright, and energetic and to be someone with whom readers can easily identify. Reviewers had one criticism—Greene, a white author, was writing Black characters who only superficially reflected that cultural background.

The book received recognition across the United States. In 1974, it was a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year and an American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Book. It also received a Kirkus Choice Award, and it won a Newbery Honor Award in 1975. In addition, it received nominations from several children’s choice book awards; particularly, in 1977, it was the second-place winner of Arkansas’s Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award.

In 1979, Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. was adapted into a filmstrip by Miller-Brody Productions and onto VHS in 1986. Greene continued Beth Lambert’s adventures in Get On Out of Here, Philip Hall (1981) and I’ve Already Forgotten Your Name, Philip Hall! (2004). In the first, a conceited Beth is humiliated when she comes second to Philip Hall. After more mistakes and humiliations, Beth escapes Pocahontas to her grandmother in Walnut Ridge. In the second, Beth returns home after visiting her grandmother and pretends to have a boyfriend, causing trouble between her and Philip. Both books were well received but earned no awards.

For additional information:
“Book Award Announced.” Arkansas Gazette, September 29, 1977, p 10B.

Byers, Betsy. “Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. (1974).” New York Times Book Review, December 8, 1974. Online at https://www.nytimes.com/1974/12/08/archives/philip-hall-likes-me-i-reckon-maybe-by-bette-greene-illustrated-by.html (accessed November 16, 2021).

Greene, Bette. Get On Out of Here, Philip Hall. New York: The Dial Press, 1981.

———. I’ve Already Forgotten Your Name, Philip Hall! New York: The Dial Press, 2004.

———. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. New York: The Dial Press, 1974.

Heins, Ethel L. “Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe.” Horn Book Magazine, April 1975, p. 149.

Merriweather, James. “Novelist Returns to State, Reads Excerpts from Book.” Arkansas Gazette, November 25, 1976, p. 16A.

“Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe (Starred Review).” Kirkus, October 1, 1974. Online at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/a/bette-greene-2/philip-hall-likes-me-i-reckon-maybe/ (accessed November 16, 2021).

Autumn Mortenson
Ouachita Baptist University (OBU)

Last Updated: 11/16/2021

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