A young girl comes to understand the meaning of church in this newest Log Cabin treat (Log Cabin Quilt, 1997, etc.). “ ‘Come spring, we’ll see about buildin’ a church,’ my pap had said at Christmastime.” Granny desperately wants a church, but people are few in Michigan, and the life of a pioneer family is not an easy one. When Elvirey has trouble remembering what church is, her siblings touchingly try to alleviate her bewilderment—church is where you look at pretty girls and sing songs at Christmastime. In the spring, more people arrive and Pap thinks about building the building . . . but clearing the land, plowing, and planting the crops come first. Finally, on a Sunday morning in summer, Pap takes the day off and dresses in his Sabbath clothes. The neighbors gradually gather, sharing food, conversation, advice, and companionship. And as the last notes of song die away and the worshipers bow their heads to ask the blessing over the meal, it doesn’t seem to matter that there is no physical sanctuary. Elvirey remembers all at once what church really is. For those unfamiliar with this pioneer family, Howard has Elvirey recall burying her mother and moving to Michigan from Carolina. Himler’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations accurately show the life led by the pioneers and add to the enjoyment of the story and the understanding of the period. An effort doubly blessed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1740-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002


An inspiring story of young boy's compelling desire to read. As a boy of nine, Booker works in a salt mine from the dark of early morning to the gloom of night, hungry for a meal, but even hungrier to learn to read. Readers follow him on his quest in Malden, Virginia, where he finds inspiration in a man ``brown as me'' reading a newspaper on a street corner. An alphabet book helps, but Booker can't make the connection to words. Seeking out ``that brown face of hope'' once again, Booker gains a sense of the sounds represented by letters, and these become his deliverance. Bradby's fine first book is tautly written, with a poetic, spiritual quality in every line. The beautifully executed, luminous illustrations capture the atmosphere of an African-American community post-slavery: the drudgery of days consumed by back- breaking labor, the texture of private lives conducted by lantern- light. There is no other context or historical note about Booker T. Washington's life, leaving readers to piece together his identity. Regardless, this is an immensely satisfying, accomplished work, resonating first with longing and then with joy. (Picture book. 5- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09464-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995


A white youth from Ohio, Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), and a black youth from Georgia, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), meet as young soldiers with the Union army. Pink finds Say wounded in the leg after a battle and brings him home with him. Pink's mother, Moe Moe Bay, cares for the boys while Say recuperates, feeding and comforting them and banishing the war for a time. Whereas Pink is eager to go back and fight against "the sickness" that is slavery, Say is afraid to return to his unit. But when he sees Moe Moe Bay die at the hands of marauders, he understands the need to return. Pink and Say are captured by Confederate soldiers and brought to the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Say is released months later, ill and undernourished, but Pink is never released, and Polacco reports that he was hanged that very first day because he was black. Polacco (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc; My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, above) tells this story, which was passed down for generations in her family (Say was her great-great-grandfather), carefully and without melodrama so that it speaks for itself. The stunning illustrations — reminiscent of the German expressionist Egon Shiele in their use of color and form — are completely heartbreaking. A spectacular achievement. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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