BIG SIXTEEN by Mary--Adapt. Calhoun


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Another of those fantastical tales, tall and creepy, that's better told than set to pictures--and probably better told to somewhat older kids (and probably better pictured by someone with a more robust style than Trina Schart Hyman). Anyways, this has to do with how, ""back in slavery times,"" Big Sixteen ("" 'cause that was the size of his shoe!"") took his master at his word--"" 'I law, Big Sixteen,' said the Old Man, 'You are so big and strong. . . I believe you could fetch me the Devil himself!' ""--and dug down into Hell, ""kilt that old Devil dead,"" and laid the corpse at the astounded Old Man's feet. But when Big Sixteen had ""lived out his good long life"" and went up to Heaven, Saint Peter turned him away on account of his fearsome size and strength, and the Devil's wife turned him away for her own good reason. But she gave him a little piece of fire, to ""start a hell of your own""--""And so, if you ever see a light flickerin' down in the swamp at night. . . you know it's Big Sixteen, with his little piece of fire, a-lookin' for a place to go."" Though Hyman's Devil has the standard snarling visage, horns, and hoofed feet, he and his lot are more repugnant than alarming (his wife looks rather like a caricature of an old-time Harlem high-stepper). And, altogether, the literal rendering of these doings robs them of virtually all their imaginative power.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1983
Publisher: Morrow