Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: The three voices that “tell it” belong to Loretta Little, a sharecropper’s daughter growing up in Mississippi from 1927 to 1930; Loretta’s younger brother Roly, who narrates from 1942 to 1950; and Roly’s daughter, Aggie B., whose years span 1962 to 1968. Inspired by the oral tradition, their narratives of hardship, poverty, love, and fights for civil rights are told in their own voices, supplemented by poems and illustrations. Includes an author’s note; an illustrator’s note; additional information on the dramatic form; information on sharecroppers; thumbnail portraits and descriptions of real-life people who appear in the Littles’ stories; and a list of resources for further reading and sharing. 224 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: The Pinkneys have produced another work of art that is sure to get some attention at awards time. The monologues are designed for reading aloud, and could be performed all together, or as individual pieces. The poems and illustrations tie all three narratives together beautifully.
Cons: I would have liked the information on the dramatic form at the beginning of the book. I read this as one would a regular novel, and found it a bit of a slog. It’s much more lively when considering it as a performance piece.