published in 1977, this story chronicles a year in the life of the Logan family
as told through the eyes of Cassie Logan, their 10 year old daughter. The Logans are cotton farmers in rural Mississippi and as the story progresses;
the reader gets a true sense of what life was like for a black family 70 years after slavery was abolished. The reader is there as the dawn of recognition unfolds and Cassie realizes the unequal balance of power
between blacks and whites. Raised in a loving, close-knit family, Cassie begins
to wonder at a world where busses filled with white children run black children off the road and where the textbooks given
to "nigra" children are dirty, worn, cast-offs from the white children.
The Logans own their own land, not a common trait among blacks in rural Mississippi, in the 1930's.
The tensions between whites and blacks in the community continue to escalate, segregation is going strong and the laws
do not protect the black man against the "Night Riders" (Taylor). Despite the
frightening events around her, Cassie, like her parents and grandparents before her, "takes strength in her pride and in the
land that was theirs no matter what" (Epinions.com). "Entirely through its own internal development, the novel shows the rich inner
rewards of black pride, love, and independence" (Booklist ***review).
The reader gets to know Cassie and her family, especially Mama, Papa, and Big Ma.
Her brothers are secondary characters. You hear their voices in subtly
accented dialogue. The southern accent is there as well as the strong use of
the "N" word and large amounts of racist language. It is hard to read at times
and the pain and inequity these black families suffer is apparent.
This powerfully written 1977 Newbery Award winner is appropriate for mature elementary and middle
grade students. The juvenile fiction category is misleading because the message
of courage in the face of injustice, family pride and strength speaks to all readers.