14 April 2014

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 1977 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!
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Cover of the book - Used for illustration purposes only under the fair use clause

Cassie Logan: Wishing For Change

"Oh, P-Papa, d-does it have to be?' ......'All I can say, Cassie girl... is that it shouldn't be."

Nine-year-old Cassie Logan lives in on her family's farm in Mississippi with her parents, her grandmother and her three brothers.  They are unique in their community because they are the only black family in the town to own land.  That doesn't mean they aren't being affected by the Depression going on around them though, as the land is mortgaged and the family does not have enough to make ends meet.  There is also the fact that many of the whites in the area can't stand the "uppity" ways of the Logan family.  When a series of events threaten to destroy Cassie's preconceived notion of how her life is, Cassie must struggle to accept her place in society and the fact that her family isn't as special as she believes.

I had recently read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, as it was read by the sixth grade class at the school I work at as one of their English novels, and I had been subbing for one of the English teachers at that time.  It is a great work about the lives of sharecropping African Americans versus the whites that lived in the areas, and an accurate account of what happened to those who went against the norms of society.

Struggle is a theme of this book.  Cassie struggles to find her place in society, as she deals with the racism of white children and adults alike.  Her parents struggle to make the farm successful.  Her elder brother, Stacy, struggles to be friends with two boys in the community, one black named T.J. Avery and one white named Jeremy Simms.

This was a difficult book to read, but was also a good book to read.  Like Sounder, this book is written from the perspective of an African American child.  The racism and tragic events in this story were told from Cassie's perspective, which seemed to soften their harshness.  I did enjoy this book more than I had Sounder, though this was not one of my favorites from this project.  It is a book that will open a child's eyes to the horrors of racism.

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