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DARBY by Jonathon Scott Fuqua


by Jonathon Scott Fuqua

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1417-3
Publisher: Candlewick

It takes the naïveté of a nine-year-old girl to light the wick of a chain of events that will affect racial bias in a small southern community. The term racial equality isn’t in Darby’s vocabulary, but in her daily life she’s certainly aware of the differences between herself and Evette, her best friend, whose father is one of the tenant farmers for Darby’s father. The girls go to separate schools; Evette has shabby clothes, lives in a tumbledown cabin, and is dirt poor. In 1926 in South Carolina, it’s a way of life. It’s Evette who excites Darby about becoming a newspaper girl when she tells her about her aunt who lives in New York City and writes for a newspaper. Mr. Salter at the newspaper likes Darby’s first essay on why toads are safe and her next, about her blind Great Uncle Harvey. That’s before a young black boy is beaten to death for trying to steal a chicken. When Mr. Salter decides to publish Darby’s article on racial injustice, he calls it “a lesson in humanity from the mouth of a child.” But her “lesson” begins an upheaval in the county that incites the Ku Klux Klan, cross-burning, and violence. It’s Darby’s voice that makes this story memorable, both the Southern colloquial cadence and expressions of innocent observations, e.g., Darby wanted to “take an eraser and rub the KKK out of my head like lines of chalk on a blackboard.” The root of this work stems from a series of oral history interviews the author conducted—and that’s what makes it ring with truth. Darby symbolizes how one person, even a child, can make a difference. (Historical fiction. 10-13)