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ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY

Taylor trusts to her material and doesn't try to inflate Cassie's role in these events, and though the strong, clear-headed...

At first Cassie Logan and her brothers, a year or so older than they were in the much briefer, Song of the Trees, (1975) are only dimly aware of rumors that two men have been killed and one badly burned by a white mob.

Then Mary, their mother, tries to organize a boycott against the Wallaces, the local storeowners and instigators of the violence, and Logan land and lives are put on the line. Cassie's own spirit is demonstrated straight off, on the first day of the school year, when she refuses to accept a schoolbook labeled "condition—very poor, race of student—nigra." Like her parents, Cassie learns that she must pick her shots carefully to survive, and she takes pains to learn a few blackmail-level secrets from her special tormentor, Miz Lillian Jean, before giving the older girl a good thrashing. Tragically though, brother Stacey's friend T.J. who isn't so careful, starts hanging around with the Wallace boys and winds up facing a lynch mob after they talk him into helping them rob a store. Although the Logans, whose ownership of desirable farmland has made them a target of white persecution, live in a virtual state of siege, and even after Papa sets fire to his own cotton to divert the attention of the mob from T.J., the story ends unmelodramatically not far from where it began—after a string of hard-fought victories and as many bitter defeats and with the money for the next tax payment on the land still not in sight.

Taylor trusts to her material and doesn't try to inflate Cassie's role in these events, and though the strong, clear-headed Logan family is no doubt an idealization, their characters are drawn with quiet affection and their actions tempered with a keen sense of human fallibility.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1976

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2647-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1976

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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