QUINNIE BLUE by Dinah Johnson


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 9
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Johnson (Sunday Week, 1999, etc.) and Ransome (The Secret of the Stones, 2000, etc.) create an affirming story of an African-American family. The girl narrator praises her grandma “Hattie Lottie Annie Quinnie Blue” and bets that she was just like her, since, it turns out, she's named after her. “Quinnie Blue, I bet you walked barefoot outdoors. Did you hear your mama say, ‘Girl, put some shoes on your feet or you might get worms?’ Or did she say, ‘Doesn't the green grass feel good tickling your toes?’” Ransome illustrates the rural Carolina setting in rich-colored oil paintings, echoing Johnson's refrain of “Quinnie Blue” with a vibrant cobalt that shows up in each composition. The page or page-and-a-half spreads are set on a frame of stained wood, against which the text and collaged spot painting make each double-paged spread feel like an open scrapbook. Cleverly, and intrinsic to the book’s success, he’s illustrated both Quinnies. On the blue-stained wood frames we see a young Grandma Quinnie sitting on the porch with family or climbing a fence; on the pink-stained wood frames we see contemporary Quinnie playing clap games (on the very same porch) or reciting at church. In these pictures, Grandma Quinnie often watches from the background, until the two are brought together at the end. Both the young Quinnies are realistic and energetic; the illustrations of both time periods have an immediacy typical of Ransome’s work. The rhythm of the text, along with the details and celebratory mood of the illustrations, makes this an excellent choice for family sharing. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8050-4378-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000


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