LUDELL by Brenda Wilkinson
Kirkus Star


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We first run across Ludell Wilson daydreaming in Miss Rivers' 5th grade class. It's Thursday, October 25, 1955, and there won't be ""anything"" to get excited about until Friday, the day the teachers sell hotdogs--at 5¢ a half--to raise money for the PTA. The biggest dream in Ludell's ""worle"" (and it's a big dream for a poor, black kid back then in Waycross, Georgia) is that her mother, Dessa, will keep her promise to send a teevee down from New York. And her immediate concern is usually food (""Wonder what clouds taste like? Marshmellons?""). . . not that Mama, actually her grandmother, doesn't provide, but cash is scarce. Ludell nearly dies of embarrassment when she pees in school; suffers through Monkey Juice's bungled performance as Mr. Tooth Decay in the 5th grade play; scares Ruthie Mae's sister Cathy by taking her down behind the funeral home (""WHERE THEY EMBOMB DEAD PEOPLES""); and goes next door to visit Mattie, a seventeen-year-old mother who's close to giving up, and read her True Confessions. This last pastime hints at where her search for a hobby will lead; after she gives up several collections, notably one of ""fine-art pictures"" clipped from the old magazines Mama brings home, Ludell takes up reading and, almost miraculously it seems, turns herself into a promising writer. Ludell, at last ready to move on to high school, hangs on to her teacher's advice--""It's your own lil red wagon. You can roll it, pull it, or drag it. . . ."" Wilkinson, who obviously knows Ludell from the inside out, must have nearly total recall, not just for the idiom, but for the day to day give and take between kids and the jumble of sassy perceptions and vague misunderstandings that goes around in their heads. Ludell is full of life and her lil red wagon should roll a long way.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Harper & Row