LI’L DAN, THE DRUMMER BOY

A CIVIL WAR STORY

Recently discovered, this is Bearden’s only work for children. Li’l Dan was a slave on the Hollis plantation, and every day after work, he came to hear Mr. Ned play his African drum. And each day Mr. Ned taught Dan how to play that drum. Eventually, Dan makes his own drum, perfects his skills, and goes off with the Union army. He becomes a hero when his drumming warns his troops of an impending attack from Confederate troops. Li’l Dan is congratulated by General William Tecumseh Sherman and is invited to join the army’s drum corps. Mixed-media art enhances the text and serves as a fine introduction to Bearden’s work. An introduction by Dr. Henry Louis Gates and a CD with Maya Angelou’s reading of the story are included. An important find for the world of children’s literature. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-86237-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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PINK AND SAY

A white youth from Ohio, Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), and a black youth from Georgia, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), meet as young soldiers with the Union army. Pink finds Say wounded in the leg after a battle and brings him home with him. Pink's mother, Moe Moe Bay, cares for the boys while Say recuperates, feeding and comforting them and banishing the war for a time. Whereas Pink is eager to go back and fight against "the sickness" that is slavery, Say is afraid to return to his unit. But when he sees Moe Moe Bay die at the hands of marauders, he understands the need to return. Pink and Say are captured by Confederate soldiers and brought to the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Say is released months later, ill and undernourished, but Pink is never released, and Polacco reports that he was hanged that very first day because he was black. Polacco (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc; My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, above) tells this story, which was passed down for generations in her family (Say was her great-great-grandfather), carefully and without melodrama so that it speaks for itself. The stunning illustrations — reminiscent of the German expressionist Egon Shiele in their use of color and form — are completely heartbreaking. A spectacular achievement. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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THAT BOOK WOMAN

Young Cal lives high in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. Sister Lark keeps her nose in a book nearly from daybreak to dusty dark. Cal’s a mite suspicious—and more than a mite resentful—of this, as he spends most of his time helping Pap with chores. One day, he spies a sorrel mare clippity-clopping slowly up the mountain; the rider’s not a man neither, but a lady wearing britches! She carries a passel of books in her saddle packs; all the family (exceptin’ Cal) welcomes her warmly. Back she comes several times a year, no matter how bad the weather. This causes Cal to wonder why she’s so dedicated, and he asks Lark to help him learn to read. By the time the Pack Horse Librarian appears again, she’s made another convert. Small’s illustrations, combining ink, watercolor and chalk, add an appropriately earthy warmth, complementing the precise prose beautifully. Every line oozes character: The hound dog’s ears flop like nobody’s business, and Cal’s face in the foreground displays every emotion as he moves from scowling suspicion to wonder. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-0812-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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