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 Poston, a well-known black journalist who died in 1974, has been well served by editor Hauke, who came upon these ten sketches of black children growing up in a southern town at the turn of the century, then edited and annotated them for publication and wrote a useful introduction. Though the quality of the sketches varies, they constitute a good-natured portrait of life in the segregated South. Told by ``Ted,'' a student at the Booker T. Washington Colored Grammar School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the tales range from pastoral pieces (occasionally with some bite) about swimming and fishing to portraits of small-town types. In ``Mr. Jack Johnson and Me,'' for instance, B'Rob serves as mentor to the young narrator, setting him right about the history of slavery, correcting ideas received from the town's white power structure. Likewise, in ``Birth of a Notion,'' the blacks successfully protest the arrival in town of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. In ``Cousin Blind Mary,'' a fortuneteller who seems to know everything after a ``night to consult the spirits'' gets her information from a network of black women who work for the whites. Meanwhile, Rat Joiner is a recurring character--a milder, gentler version of Bigger Thomas who, despite obstacles, devises a plan (``Rat Joiner Whips the Kaiser'') to win the WW I Liberty Bond Contest. In ``The Revolt of the Evil Fairies,'' perhaps the most affecting of the personal sketches, Ted spoils a presentation of ``Prince Charming and the Sleeping Beauty'' when he realizes he ``couldn't have been Prince Charming'' however obedient he pretended to be. Anecdotes and reminiscences are strung together to create an evocative miscellany--with Hauke's extensive notes linking together real-life counterparts with Poston's semi-fictional creations.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8203-1302-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991