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

ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY

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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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