SONG OF THE TREES
Song of the Trees, which won a Council on Interracial Books award, is based on one of the true stories the author's father used to tell about growing up black in Depression-era Mississippi. Here, when Papa is way down in Louisiana laying railroad tracks "so his children can eat," white lumbermen move in and, offering Grandma $65 for all they care to take, begin cutting down trees on the family's land. Cassie's older brother Stacey goes off to fetch Papa, who arrives a few days later (just in time to save Cassie and her younger brothers from a belt-thrashing by Mr. Anderson, the crew leader whose efforts they've been obstructing), prepared, as the intruders come to realize, to blow up the forest if the white men don't clear off at once. In the beginning Cassie, who often listens to the trees singing though her brother says it's only the wind, wakes up to a gray morning--except for the trees of the forest, which "stood dark, almost black, still holding the night." Later she plays under her "wintry-smelling hiding tree" and. then, just before the lumbermen come, she's disturbed by the trees' "eerie silence." This is enough to make us feel their specialness, as elsewhere the prose is plain and direct, the story allowed to tell itself.