DRYLONGSO by Virginia Hamilton


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Age Range: 8 - 12
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In a concluding note, Hamilton discusses the origins of the name she gives Drylongso, "a youth imbued with simple human kindness. Not only does he personify drought, but he also represents the longing for rain." Moreover, he's "a folk hero" and "the symbol of fate." The word itself, probably from the Gullah, means "drought" or, metaphorically, "ordinary" or "boring"; here, it provides a multilayered theme for an evocative story about a farm family enduring the drought of 1975 until, running in front of a dust storm, Drylongso takes refuge with them. While the storm rages outside and they battle the grit within, Drylongso converses with little Lindy's dad and Mamalou, telling jokes and stories about other droughts and explaining how farming practices like plowing have led to the dust storms. Next morning, he presents a gift of seed corn and potatoes; before he leaves, he uses a "dowser" to locate a spring. Told with elegant simplicity, the story's steady focus on elementals--earth, water, seed, the love of parent and child, home--gives it the mythic quality Hamilton intended. Meanwhile, Pinkney surpasses his own best work with his marvelous watercolors, their soft tones muted with the color of dust, the subtle relationships among the characters enriched by every detail of stance and expression, the prairie setting and homely household evoked in spare compositions of rare harmony. A lovely tribute to all good people who still know how to negotiate peaceably with the earth on which they depend. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0152015876
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992


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