Poet and storyteller Harrington offers a verse novel about a girl named Katharen, nicknamed Keet for the parakeetlike chattiness that her family loves, particularly her grandpa, an avid fisherman.
When Keet's family moves from Alabama and the "brown arms" and "brown legs" of her friends to Illinois and the classmates with "faces like sour grapefruits" and "eyes like measuring tape" who tell her that she "sounds funny," she silences her storytelling voice. She slowly befriends Allegra, a Spanish-speaking girl who lives in the neighborhood, with whom she bonds after telling Allegra where her cockatoo escaped. Through this emerging friendship, her grandfather's encouraging love and life lessons imparted while they wait to catch Ol' Muddy Joe the legendary Fish, and an Appalachian storyteller who visits her school, Keet finds her voice again—and with heartwarmingly victorious results. Harrington announces Keet’s race as subtly as she develops her characters and in details such as the simple, almost-missable mention of the number of braids Allegra draws in her rendering of Keet. A poetry glossary concludes the book, explaining the various forms used, including blues poems, contrapuntal poems, and pantoums.
A gentle-spirited book about a black girl who almost gives up her gift but for love and friendship. (Verse novel. 8-12)