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.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1987

ISBN: 0803704178

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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