Books by Felicia Marshall

SOMETIMEY FRIEND by Pansie Hart Flood
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

It's 1978 and good-hearted Sylvia Freeman is getting ready for fifth grade at a new school with her newly discovered family. Hart picks up where Secret Holes (2003) ended, in Wakeview, S.C. Here Sylvia says goodbye to her mother for the first time and is left with her "best friend and great-grandmother," Miz Lula May. Sylvia's start of school is a bit rocky and becomes even more challenging when she receives a note that makes fun of Miz Lula May. Self-conscious and worried, Sylvia is embarrassed about her great-grandmother's age, her slightly worn house and her other quirky relatives. Though Sylvia's first-person narrative is spunky and honest, the dialect is jumpy and inconsistent, sometimes changing mid-sentence. Readers will wonder why Sylvia's mother is gone so long—even Sylvia wonders, but her question is never answered. The strength of this story is not so much the Southern atmosphere or an evocation of the time, but in the relationship between Sylvia and her family. Those who've read the first two installments in Sylvia's life will want to continue with this one. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
SECRET HOLES by Pansie Hart Flood
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Ten-year-old narrator Sylvia Freeman is in for some changes in her life. Not only has she just met her father (whom she had been told was deceased), but she has also found out that her "best friend," hundred-year-old Miz Lula Maye, is also her great-grandmother. Flood does a pretty good job of keeping everything straight for the reader, even when the narrator is deliberately kept in the dark by her mother. When Miz Lula Maye shows Sylvia the contents of the secret holes where she keeps her important documents, the little girl becomes intent on discovering her mother's secret holes as well. Her curiosity is rewarded, but she finds out much more of what her mother has kept hidden. In a much-too-neat ending, Sylvia learns that everyone loves her, no one is to blame for all the secrets, and no one has to worry about money ever again. Well-meaning, but saccharine. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
SYLVIA & MIZ LULA MAYE by Pansie Hart Flood
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

A move to the South Carolina countryside brings two unlikely African-American characters together in an ever-deepening friendship that has more consequence than one of them can foretell. Ten-year-old Sylvia Freeman, new to this country road with only three houses, befriends Miz Lula Maye, who is almost 100 years old. Told in Sylvia's first-person voice, the story reveals a burgeoning fondness between the two, as they spend more and more time together. Despite her age, Lula Maye shares the child's sense of vivacity and engagement with life. Sylvia, never the dispassionate observer, offers her editorial comments on everything. Most of this is delightful, but debut novelist Flood sometimes has the girl slip from a little girl's vernacular to a more knowledgeable narrator's voice, with words like "savory," or constructions like "As I drifted off into a much needed and deserved sleep." Meanwhile, the pair's friendship takes an unexpected turn one morning after Sylvia spends the night at Lula's, only to find a strange man staying with her momma. It turns out that blood is thicker than tearful water when all is revealed at church that day. Sylvia's world is temporarily turned upside down, but friendship wins out after all. This story is more complicated than the narrative first suggests and too much must be explained at the end—its abruptness maybe because the momma character has not been developed enough to foreshadow the revelations of the story. Or perhaps, because more of Sylvia's adventures are planned and the author was concentrating too much on introducing the major recurring characters. Marshall's pencil drawings dramatically complement this pivotal moment in a young girl's life. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
KEEPERS by Jeri Hanel Watts
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

As in Naturi Thomas's Uh-oh! It's Mama's Birthday (p. 388), a boy's good intentions are at the center of this oft-used plot of a youth who sets off to buy a gift, only to purchase something for himself instead. Kenyon finds himself in a dilemma after spending the money for his grandmother's 90th birthday gift on a new baseball glove. Realizing his mistake, he thinks hard about giving Little Dolly something that does not cost money, and puts together a book of his grandmother's much vaunted stories (none of which are recounted here). In doing so, he becomes the next ``Keeper'' of tales, an honor usually reserved for women in the family. Learning from one's mistakes is the message; readers will have to overlook the fact that the baseball-loving Kenyon gains the coveted mitt for himself in the process. The acrylic illustrations are reminiscent of James Ransome's early work; some awkward perspectives detract from the mostly effective compositions, but one scene—an aerial view of Kenyon stretched out on the floor on his stomach, the marshmallow undersides of his sneakers exposed—is quite unique. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
DOWN HOME AT MISS DESSA'S by Bettye Stroud
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Two picture-book newcomers create a remembrance of a special friendship from a summer day in an African American community in the rural south of the 1940s. Miss Dessa is an elderly lady who lives down the road from the narrator and her sibling, Baby Sister. Miss Dessa takes care of their skinned knees and bruised elbows, but on the day she turns her ankle, their roles are switched. The girls spend the day taking care of her: helping with her quilting, bringing her lunch, picking her flowers, putting her to bed. Throughout the day, the girls get in a lot of play, too: dressing up, shooting chinaberries, and swinging on a tire swing. Most of the time, Marshall's acrylic paintings fit the mood of the evocative text well, capturing the details of Miss Dessa's home and the pace of a lazy summer afternoon. It's all the more jarring, then, when there are incongruities between text and art: Miss Dessa is told to stay off her foot, yet is pictured in at least four different chairs; she is sockless in one scene but wears socks (or has bandages on both ankles) in another; her injured foot is down in one scene, and elevated on a pillow in another, later scene; the girls get Miss Dessa ready for bed while a clock marks the time as only half-past six; the girls go to bed a short time later, and the sky is dark. These problems don't ruin the generous sentiments of the story, but they render them less forceful. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >