Cassie Logan, of the author's Newbery-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, narrates events leading up to a tragic climax on a hot summer Mississippi afternoon in 1933. On an errand to a country store they usually avoid because they know the proprietors are dangerously unfriendly to blacks, the four Logan children are hassled by storekeepers Thurston and Dewberry Wallace, who taunt six-year, old Little-Man for his color, threatening to chop off his hands because they look dirty. The children quickly back away, though they don't take the threat at face value. But when Old Mr. Tom Bee comes by the store and persists in his habit of calling John Wallace by his first name, the threat becomes real. The familiarity is forbidden by custom, but promised in perpetuity by John, whose life Tom saved more than once, with kindness as well as heroism. But the presence of his sons and an unfriendly group of customers forces John to renege on his promise in a harrowing, bitter climax. From its quiet beginning, the tension grows relentlessly in this brief, carefully designed story. The hint of a possible friendship between white Jeremy Simms and the eldest Logan, Stacey; the fine, sturdy character of the Logans; and the indomitable courage of Tom Bee when he decides the time has come to stand up for a principle are the only notes of hope in the somber events. Ginsburg's black-and-white drawings are outstanding, his solid figures masterfully staged to convey the taut drama.