Dit Sims lives in tiny Moundville, Alabama in 1917. He’s got nine brothers and sisters and his Dad routinely forgets his name. It’s summer, it’s hot and Dit’s best friend is away for the summer. When he finds out that a new postmaster is coming to town, Dit hopes the new postmaster, Mr. Walker, has a son close to his age that will want to go fishing and play baseball.
The postmaster comes, and Dit is disappointed to learn that he doesn’t bring a son, he brings prissy, brainiac Emma who always has her nose in a book and doesn’t know one thing about baseball. Dit’s town is disappointed to learn that the Walkers are African-American.
Dit’s family welcomes the Walkers and the two families slowly build a relationaship sharing chores and helping out when family members are sick. Dit and Emma start building a friendship too. Dit teaches Emma how to throw and hit a baseball. Emma helps Dit with math and introduces him to exciting adventure books like Treasure Island. Slowly, over the summer, the two kids become best friends.
Some people in Dit’s town don’t welcome the Walkers, especially the town sheriff. Some people object to Dit and Emma’s friendship, even object to the Walkers living in Moundville at all. When the two kids witness a racially motivated shooting and realize their friend, the town’s black barber, is unjustly blamed and sentenced to hang, they secretly come up with a daring plan to save him.
This story brings the injustice and horrors of racial bigotry to life. It’s a story about friendship between people and how that friendship is stronger than the forces around it that try to tear it apart. Two thumbs up historical fiction. Author: Kristin Levine
Robert Smalls was born a slave in South Carolina in 1839. Robert’s owner sent him to Charleston work. He waited tables, made deliveries, loaded and unloaded the cargo from ships – and all of the money he earned went to his master. What Robert could keep, was what he learned working on the docks. He eventually became a wheelman – the person who steers a boat. One night, Robert and his crew – all of them slaves – sneak their families aboard the ship Planter, stealing the ship and sailing North towards freedom. This is the story of an extraordinary man, a man who eventually bought his master’s plantation and was elected to the United States Congress in 1875! Author: Janet Halfmann Illustrator: Duane Smith
This reads more like a story than like a timeline of George Washington Carver’s Life. I liked the way the author told about what was going on around Mr. Carver at the times he made important decisions about himself. He did some really interesting things, but the road to how he got there is even MORE interesting. In this book you hear about his family, friends and co-workers, other African-Americans scientists and educators whose presence and thoughts influenced him. These people are characters in his life story, because to understand him, it’s good to understand everything and everone around him. I would read this one for fun – not just for homework. Author & Illustrator: Cheryl Harness
I told you about this book a few months ago already, but since it just won the Coretta Scott King Award, I thought I would show it to you again. It is great words and great pictures together -the perfect book!
I’m not really into baseball very much and I loved this book! It is the story of Negro League baseball. Did you know that there was a league in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s for African-American players because they were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues? This book is the story of those players and the league they made great that only came to an end when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League baseball. The story is told like you are listening to an old player remember. The narrator tells about how the league was formed, who the owners, managers and players were…but more. The narrator doesn’t just list the facts. There are many sad, surprising, horrifying, funny & interesting stories about the players and what they endured to play baseball. On top of that, the pictures in the book are astounding! The author/artist, Kadir Nelson, did a lot of reasearch to get the ballparks and players, uniforms and other details just right. It is like looking at painted photos from someone who was actually there. This is a good one. Don’t miss it. Author: Kadir Nelson
Negro League Baseball: theIndianapolis Clowns (And who played for them? None other than Hank Aaron…who writes a great foreword to this book. Aaron says, “I know that I wouldn’t have made it in baseball had these legends not paved the way for me.”
The time in this book is right before the Revolutionary War. Isabel and her sister Ruth are slaves owned by an old woman in Rhode Island. When their dying owner promises them freedom after her death, the two see the possibilities of a new life. To there horror, the old woman’s nephew refuses to free them after his Aunt’s death. He instead sells the girls to an abusive couple in New York. While the property of the Lanktons, the girls know only pain and work.
The Lanktons are Loyalists, people who are loyal to King George. New York is a hotbed of discontent between the Loyalists and the Patriots, people who want to break away from English rule. At first, Isabel is drawn to the Patriots and their beliefs in liberty and freedom. She agrees to spy on her Loyalists owners for the Patriots until she realizes that their beliefs about liberty and freedom don’t apply to her, a slave. Isabel realizes that if she wants freedom, she’s going to have to fight for it herself. This is a gripping story of one girl’s fight against what seem like impossible odds. Author: Laurie Halse Anderson