OFF TO SCHOOL by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert


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From the author of The Barber's Cutting Edge (1994), a flawed story that is also predictable: Wezielee, the youngest child of a large African-American sharecropper family, is left at home to cook the midday meal while the rest of her family toils in the fields. She is distracted by her wish to attend the nearby school, and meal after meal is oversalted, overcooked, overspiced, or just plain forgotten. Long before Wezielee ruins the fifth consecutive dinner, readers will have leaped ahead to the foregone conclusion: She will never be a cook, so she may as well be a scholar. Little about the family's hardscrabble life is authentically described. They are sharecroppers and migrant pickers, two very different, mutually exclusive occupations. Wezielee's father is said to be planting and weeding, but it is harvesttime, when neither activity would take place. Wezielee's thirst for learning and her long-suffering family's patience with her culinary shortcomings are attractive, as are the watercolors Griffith (David Adler's A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth, 1994) provides of the hard-working clan, with their sparsely furnished cabin and plain, worn clothes.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1995
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Holiday House