Lucille Clifton is a prolific juvenile author as well as a poet, and this commemorative for the American generations of her family, originally ""from Dahomey women,"" carries the stamp of her work in both genres. She's a warm and earthy writer and might also be crooning their history into the ear of a sleepy little Clifton child. This small memoir is dedicated to her Daddy, Samuel Sayles. His funeral provides the occasion for her remembering the stories he used to tell about Mammy Ca'line, his great-grandmother, born free in Dahomey in 1822, died free in Virginia in 1910; and Mammy Canine's daughter Lucy, ""first Black woman legally hanged in the State of Virginia"" after killing the white father of her son, Gene; and for her recollections of her own childhood, her martyred Mama, and Samuel Sayles himself, ""first colored man to own a dining room set in Depew, New York."" You can easily see the reflection of her tight, spare poetry in this exceedingly compact book, which is all the more affecting for its light touch and suggestive sketches of all the American Sayles, including a few of the white ones. ""Slavery was terrible,"" says her Daddy, ""but we fooled them old people. We come out of it better than they did."" Here's the proof.