Books by Dorothy Carter

Released: March 16, 2005

When their father loses his job and heads north for a better life, Prince and Pearl stay in Florida with their caring grandmother in her general store, The Ark. It's the Depression, and times are tough for the hardworking black families who rely on Grandma's products, advice and generous line of credit. Jim Crow laws threaten their dignity, and the Klansmen try to take away their sense of security. Grandma can protect the community from just about anything until a hurricane strikes; then the community has to pull together. Carter's light touch deftly peppers the story with fascinating historical details. Whether she is discussing the various skin tones in her community, (Grandma is "yaller punkin" colored), listening to her friend bemoan the Klan's maneuvers ("Lord, I'm the one got to wash all those filthy robes again"), arguing the state of colored schools with the white truant officer or slipping herself some Stanback headache powder, Grandma is one sturdy woman. Let's hope a sequel will reveal what happens to Grandma in Florida and to Prince and Pearl when they rejoin their growing family in Philadelphia. (Fiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1999

The young protagonist of Bye, Mis' Lela (1998) returns, faced this time with a scary mission. Her daddy is working in far- off New York City, so Sugar Plum must run through the dark woods for the midwife when her mother goes into labor. Anxious and reluctant, unsure of what is happening to Mama, Sugar Plum nonetheless screws up her courage, then races down a "moon- bright road," crawls over a rickety bridge, and delivers her message. Illuminated with intense blues and greens, the shadows themselves glow in Stevenson's vibrant paintings; solid, sturdy human figures move through scenes in which every surface seems to shimmer with color. The next morning, Sugar Plum bounds confidently home and finds herself with a new baby brother. Her mother tells Sugar Plum that she's old enough to be called from now on by her real name, Wilhe'mina. Although in several respects this is reminiscent of Bill Martin's The Ghost Eye Tree (1985), Carter's story features not only a more important errand but more fully developed characters. In a final wordless scene, the father is reunited with his family, contributing further to the satisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
BYE, MIS' LELA by Dorothy Carter
Released: April 14, 1998

This hushed book about life and death, arrivals and departures, and hellos and good-byes, is so reflective and subdued it feels as if it should be read aloud in a whisper. Sugar Plum, an African-American preschooler, has a hard time when her mom, who works, drops her off at Mis' Lela's, but Mis' Lela is an old soul and knows how to console a youngster. Soon Sugar Plum is enjoying herself, sharing with Mis' Lela the small incidents of her day. She is droll at the arrival of Mr. Tinker Man: ``He's gonna mend one hole and punch two, making more leaks in my tin tubs,'' and understated about a visit from Mis' Bible Lady``My, that woman can talk.'' Then, when Mis' Lela dies, Sugar Plum must contend with griefemotions that are limned in childlike and immediate terms. Stevenson's soft-edged illustrations heighten the dreamy quality of the text, so much so that it seems only natural that Sugar Plum, old enough to head to school, says a quiet hello when she walks past Mis' Lela's old house, and that a familiar ``Study your lessons, Sugar Plum, and mind your manners'' seems to come floating sweetly back from the ether. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >