Books by Virginia Hamilton

THE PEOPLE COULD FLY by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Nov. 9, 2004

"A dreamy, powerful picture-book tribute to both Hamilton and the generations-old story. (Picture book. 9-12)"
"They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

"Your listeners will be wide-eyed, too. (Picture book. 7-9)"
Readers who don't rest easy after being spooked should be warned away from this posthumous chiller. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

"A note on the tale, and on Bruh Rabbit as a character, caps this handsome edition, seemingly destined to become the standard one in libraries. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)"
Hamilton posthumously revives this archetypal Brer Rabbit tale with a Gullah-inflected rendition, to which Ransome supplies Jerry Pinkney-influenced watercolor scenes of clothed, but naturalistically rendered animals. Read full book review >
TIME PIECES by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"The first (one hopes not the last) of Hamilton's works to appear posthumously, this makes a loving, thoughtful addition to her unique literary legacy. (Fiction. 10-12)"
Drawing in part from her own memories, the late, much-honored author takes a child through a summer of high times and low, of anxious moments and long, lazy days, of loss, love, laughter, and strengthening ties to the past. Read full book review >
THE GIRL WHO SPUN GOLD by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

"The nasty little man is particularly effective, limned as carefully as a poisoned jewel box. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)"
Hamilton (Bluish, 1999, etc.) turns her elegant style to a West Indian-based version of the Rumpelstiltskin story. Read full book review >
BLUISH by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

"The three children in Leo and Diane Dillons' jacket painting are misleadingly grave, but the designs in their knit caps and scarves evoke the author's poetic, richly textured prose. (Fiction. 9-11)"
A child coming off chemotherapy wins new friends and acceptance from her class in this short, upbeat tale from Hamilton (Second Cousins, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
SECOND COUSINS by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

"Along with the strong story line, readers will be absorbed both by the author's language (alternately slangy and poetic), and by the complex emotional and conversational textures."
Affirming the value of existing family ties as she perceptively explores the formation of new ones, Hamilton elaborates on themes from Cousins (1990) with a populous sequel. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

"Informative notes on each tale are given in the back of the book, interesting to general readers as well as to specialists. (Folklore. 5-11)"
A consummate collection from the team behind When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing (1996), combining witty prose with breathtaking watercolors. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1996

"First published in local newspapers and not available in book form since the 1970s, these wry, comic, tender tales should at last find the wide audience they deserve. (Folklore. 7-10)"
Joel Chandler Harris wasn't the only collector of African-American trickster tales; here are eight fables gathered (and some, perhaps, written) by Martha Young, his contemporary. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

"It's hard to envision the shelf—children's or adults'—on which this volume doesn't belong. (Folklore. 7+)"
A volume with as broad appeal as Hamilton's The People Could Fly (1985). Read full book review >
JAGUARUNDI by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

"Strangely, despite its Greener-than-thou tone, this book is complacent: Animals can adapt, but not as easily or quickly as implied here. (Fiction/Picture book. 5-12)"
Rundi Jaguarundi's neighborhood (the rain forest) is getting overpopulated, so he teams up with Coati Coatimundi and calls a general meeting of the local fauna. Read full book review >
PLAIN CITY by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

"Subtle, wise, complex— superb. (Fiction. 9-13)"
At 12, Bulaire has reason to ponder her identity; a bright, prickly loner, she wonders if her looks—changeable blue-green eyes, "golden Rasta twists," pale skin that summer tans "to near-chocolate lightly washed in burnt orange"—are why she's at odds with her darker friends and relatives. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

"A compelling book, outstanding in every way. (Nonfiction. 9+)"
Taking as her theme the "joyous anthem of freedom," beginning with "No more auction block for me," Hamilton samples documented African-American lives from 1619 through the Civil War. Read full book review >
DRYLONGSO by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

"A lovely tribute to all good people who still know how to negotiate peaceably with the earth on which they depend. (Fiction. 8-12)"
In a concluding note, Hamilton discusses the origins of the name she gives Drylongso, "a youth imbued with simple human kindness. Read full book review >
THE ALL JAHDU STORYBOOK by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"Moser contributes the attractive design and 20 beautifully painted glimpses of the scenes and characters in Jahdu's world. (Fiction. 8-12)"
In 1969, Hamilton published The Time-Ago Tales of Jahdu, four tales about a trickster boy-hero who expressed his sense of freedom by "running along" and whose favorite exclamation was "Woogily!" Read full book review >
COUSINS by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Sept. 27, 1991

"Another wise, beautifully written book from this well-established master."
Cammy is first seen paying one of her regular visits to a nursing home to see her grandmother, Gram Tut, undeterred by rules that say children must be accompanied by adults. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1990

"Advise pleasure-readers to skip the notes, and researchers to consult better-documented material."
A collection of 24 myths and folk tales from a wide variety of traditions, plus one original story incorporating folk beliefs. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1989

"An excellent addition to the author's fine oeuvre; a good readaloud."
For readers older than those of Howard's Chita's Christmas Tree (p. 990/C-166), another vivid account of the holiday as celebrated by a black family in comfortable circumstances years ago—in this case, in 1890 Ohio. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 10, 1988

"List of sources."
A leading author and illustrator collaborate in a fine compilation of creation myths—a basic component of any folklore collection. Read full book review >
Released: June 5, 1988

"Bibliography of sources; index; selections from the Fugitive Slave Act."
Part history, part fictionalized narrative: the story of a runaway slave who was returned from Boston to his master in Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Read full book review >
A WHITE ROMANCE by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Oct. 1, 1987

"Hamilton demonstrates that a popular YA novel can also be a serious literary work of beauty, complexity and depth."
A much-honored author succeeds brilliantly at a new task—telling it like it is at an inner-city magnet school, where black Talley's best friend is white Didi Adair, in love with a drug addict. Read full book review >
MYSTERY OF DREAR HOUSE by Virginia Hamilton
Released: March 16, 1987

"Hamilton's clean, spare style delights and surprises with its unexpected melodies and insights."
Winner of an impressive number of prizes, including a Newbery and two Coretta Scott King awards, Hamilton is at home in biography, folklore, and fantasy; here, in a sequel to The House of Dies Drear, she returns to realistic fiction with roots in the past of both family and place. Read full book review >
JUNIUS OVER FAR by Virginia Hamilton
Released: April 24, 1985

"If, in the end, the strangers' sinister business sounds like a Cold War concoction, and if the ultimate disposition of the Rawlings property seems a little too good to be convincingly true, these details are peripheral and unimportant compared to Hamilton's clear-sighted handling of the Burtie connection and her vibrant family portrait."
One of Hamilton's more accessible and unforced novels, Junius Over Far celebrates a boy's love for his grandfather, a man's rediscovery of his roots, and an old man's dignity and belonging. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 17, 1983

"For kids, it won't be fatal; but it is too bad."
The Martians—of Orson Welles' famous 1938 broadcast—don't just queer Willie Bea's Halloween; they pretty much shatter Hamilton's keen, affecting drama of family relations. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1983

"As such, it is an impressive construction and, clearly, genuinely felt."
An ambitious work, aspiring to the mythic and mixing invention, black folklore and legend, and, it seems, Hamilton's own family history. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1982

"Like other Hamilton novels this has its rough edges, but they are outweighed here by the blazing scenes, the intensity of Tree's feelings, the glimpses of Dab through her eyes, and the rounded characterization of Vy."
One of Hamilton's deeply felt family stories, this contains a ghost, a time trip, a retarded brother's death, a case of child abuse, and a largely absent mother who turns up with a boyfriend and a car her children never knew of—but this is all integrated into a fully imagined novel that conforms to none of the obvious YA patterns such components would suggest. Read full book review >
THE GATHERING by Virginia Hamilton
Released: April 6, 1981

"We never actually see any crisis or confrontation in the tightly controlled domity; and we never actually see the questions raised by the society's Master Plan played out in action."
In the final volume of Hamilton's thoughtful but disappointing "Justice" trilogy, the four psychic children once more form the "first unit" and travel through the Crossover to the desolate future Dustland. Read full book review >
JAHDU by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Sept. 29, 1980

"I'm a streak of light! I'm a trick-maker! Read full book review >
DUSTLAND by Virginia Hamilton
Released: April 21, 1980

"We leave Dustland still waiting for the trilogy to shape up as a story, and to reveal itself as the serious vision that seems to be promised."
At the close of Justice and Her Brothers (1978), four youngsters sat, hands clasped, poised for their first venture as the psychically powerful First Unit, harbinger of a race to come. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 16, 1978

"Perhaps now that Hamilton has assembled her unit, we can look forward to its pioneering ventures."
This story of a psychically gifted eleven-year-old girl and her coming into her powers is the first in a trilogy, and much of the story, too, seems a setting-up for bigger things to come. Read full book review >
ARILLA SUN DOWN by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Sept. 13, 1976

"The resulting mesh gives the common theme of adolescent self-discovery a dazzling, uncommon impact."
Instead of one towering image like M. C. Higgins atop his gleaming pole, Arilla Sun Down is made up of a series of arresting scenes that are almost surreal in their visual intensity. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1974

"A considered, mature, dramatic evocation — we're lucky to have it."
Having gone from spectacular fame to enforced oblivion in his own lifetime (his name was even stricken from sports books), Paul Robeson is now long overdue for reconsideration. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1974

"Hamilton is at her best here; the soaring but firmly anchored imagery, the slant and music of everyday speech, the rich and engaging characters and warm, tough, wary family relationships, the pervasive awareness of both threat and support connected with the mountain — all mesh beautifully in theme and structure to create a sense of organic belonging."
Virginia Hamilton goes home again to the hill country, where Sarah's mountain has belonged to M.C.'s family ("and them to it") ever since an ancestor fleeing slavery settled there with her infant. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 26, 1973

"Whether Jahdu has been enlarged or inflated is still a question; we'd prefer to let his younger followers, who will have no preconceptions about the symbolic characters, tell us if they find Time-Ago recaptured here."
There is no sunlight in Harlem the day Mama Luka tells Lee Edward the "dark and wiggly" story of Jahdu running to the east to look for light and time, which have vanished, and to be born again in his oven. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 13, 1971

"This is not a story to be judged on grounds of probability, but one which makes its own insistent reality; it endures along with its promise long after the story ends."
Herewith — Junior Brown, a 300-pound musical prodigy who plays a silenced piano so as not to disturb his asthmatic, overprotective mother; Buddy Clark, his homeless friend and real protector, member of a city-wide network of "Tomorrow Billys" who care for needy street kids in underground "planets"; Mr. Pool, a compassionate teacher-turned-janitor who hides the boys for ten weeks in the school basement, where they construct a mechanized solar system instead of attending their eighth-grade classes; Miss Peebs, an aging music teacher who transmits to Junior her delusion of a filthy, diseased relative in her living room. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 29, 1969

"Time-ago to here and now — much in little, superlatively shadowed by Nonny Hogrogian."
THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR by Virginia Hamilton
Released: Sept. 9, 1968

"Ideas abound, but when the focus shifts from Thomas' determination to take the measure of the house (literally and figuratively), the story becomes a charade."
ZEELY by Symeon Shimin
Released: Feb. 1, 1966

"Geeder does make the association and learns to truly appreciate Zeely in an interlude of growing up successfully captured here."
By the time you find out that Geeder (Elizabeth) and her younger brother Toeboy (John) are Negro it doesn't really matter anyway, although that fact is a part of their composite personalities and it does help to stress the extraordinary fascination Geeder felt for Zeely Taber. Read full book review >
EVERYBODY DUCK by Virginia Hamilton
Released: June 15, 1962

"A book guaranteed to stir wanderlust, though probably not for traveling in a duck."
Everybody is the saga of a family who drove from Huntington, Long Island, to Buenos Aires in a amphibious army "duck" at a maximum speed of 25 mph. Read full book review >