A graceful, episodic story set in 1916 about South Carolina’s Drayton Hall Plantation, told through the eyes of a lively black-and-white dog, Nipper, who really lived there.
Lewis tells a compelling story, accompanied by McElroy’s exquisite watercolor illustrations, of this old plantation house and the last generation of the Drayton family, who inhabited it. Nipper travels from his owner’s Charleston home to the countryside, where he greets Sammy and Emma, the African-American couple who take care of the house, and plays with Richmond, the African-American boy who lives on the property. Into Nipper’s narrative Lewis seamlessly weaves historical tidbits about the family’s coat of arms, the architecture, and landscape features, both natural and artificial. While the caretakers descended from the slaves who cared for the Drayton family generations before, the book carefully avoids stereotype in both the wispy watercolor images and in the language. A quintessential dog, Nipper loves all of the humans without distinction, and making him the narrator helps with objectivity. Rich backmatter about the house and its inhabitants may pique readers’ interest in visiting this important historic site, now preserved and open to the public.
Between nipping, yipping, and escaping from alligators, Nipper tells a great story of a long-ago time but of a place that still stands. (Picture book. 5-8)