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FORTY ACRES AND MAYBE A MULE by Harriette Gillem Robinet

FORTY ACRES AND MAYBE A MULE

By Harriette Gillem Robinet

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-689-82078-X
Publisher: Atheneum

From Robinet (The Twins, the Pirates, and the Battle of New Orleans, 1997, etc.), an earnest look at the human face and the human cost of Reconstruction in the South. Pascal’s older brother, Gideon, comes back for him after running away from the plantation, saying that he is free, that all the slaves are free, made so by President Lincoln, and they are to get 40 acres to farm. As Pascal and Gideon search for the Freedmen’s Bureau that will give them title, they build a family of other former slaves. They get their spread, which they name Green Gloryland, but their hard work and joy are short-lived; a few months after they have planted cotton and built a house, their land is given over to whites, and the school and other black settlements are burned. Much of what happens in this story is told rather than shown, while the characters never come fully off the page. The text is often heavy- handed, e.g., “Colored and white, we’re all just neighbors” and “Why couldn’t white people just let them live?” Pascal, who has a withered arm and leg, is an inveterate punster, which adds levity to an otherwise grim story. (bibliography) (Fiction. 9-12)