Loretta Little Looks Back : Three Voices Go Tell It
by Pinkney, Andrea Davis; Pinkney, Brian (ILT)

Loretta, Roly and Aggie B. Little relate their Mississippi family's struggles and triumphs from 1927 to 1968 while struggling as sharecroppers, living under Jim Crow and fighting for civil rights. Simultaneous eBook.

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of nearly 50 books for young readers, among them The Red Pencil and A Poem for Peter, as well as several collaborations with her husband Brian Pinkney, including Sit -In and Hand in Hand, which received the Coretta Scott King Book Award.

Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous books for children, including two Caldecott Honor books, and he has written and illustrated several of his own books. Brian has received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustration and three Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor medals.

The Pinkneys have been named among the "25 Most Influential People in Our Children's Lives" by Children's Health magazine. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

*Starred Review* The Pinkneys' latest collaboration (Martin Rising, 2018) comprises a series of dramatic monologues spotlighting three fictional members of the Little family whose experiences are based on the collective voices of African Americans living in the American South from the 1920s to the late 1960s. Twelve-year-old Loretta recounts growing up as a sharecropper's daughter in the 1920s: watching her father be disrespected by their landowner, being sprayed with insecticide while picking cotton, and losing her beloved father to cancer. Foundling Roland (Roly), raised as a much younger sibling by Loretta, recalls having his livestock poisoned, the difficulties of adhering to Jim Crow laws, and his night-deep vigils to protect his land. Daughter Aggie's soliloquies, set in the 1960s, highlight her participation in voter registration drives, her membership in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the group's eventual recognition at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. As always, Pinkney's writing sings, rich with metaphor, lyricism, and touches of magic realism. The choice of oral storytelling is inspired, both for its cultural significance and because it allows readers to empathize with these events. Stage notes, free verse poems, and black-and-white spot art introduce most monologues, effectively representing the characters and emphasizing their resilience. Generous back matter concludes this timely and important read. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Three members of the Little family, as preteens and teens, tell their personal and family stories. First, Loretta Little speaks, from 1927 to 1930, about her life picking cotton as a sharecropper, watching her father endure degradation under conditions that are less than completely free. Next, 'Retta's little brother, Roly, speaks from 1942 to 1950. The family now has their own small plot of land, but terrorists poison their animals to keep them in check. After this heartbreak, Roly finds love, marries, and has a child, Aggie B., the final narrator, who brings readers from 1962 to 1968. Aggie is the youngest volunteer in her town's voter-registration effort, helping Aunt 'Retta to study for the unfair test and then to save up pennies to pay the poll tax. She is beaten savagely by racists and attends the Democratic National Convention twice, giving readers a front-row seat to history. Author Pinkney's writing is alive with imagery; the unusual monologue format works ideally read aloud in pieces and offers rich opportunities for readers' theater. Each character presents an e ngaging contrast to the others, and the slow progress from Jim Crow days to the 1960s illuminates a little-examined piece of U.S. history while making it deeply personal. Illustrator Pinkney's grayscale paintings open and close chapters with rounded frames and expressive features, memorably connecting and highlighting the story's themes of family and land. Readers will hear the history come alive. (author's notes, illustrator's notes, photos, further reading) (Historical fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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