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Multicultural Literature
M.C. Higgins, the Great
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The Thief Lord
This Same Sky
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
The Eleventh Hour: Curious Mystery
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
M.C. Higgins, the Great
Goin' Someplace Special
Locomotion
Too Many Tamales
Pablo Remembers
My Name is Maria Isabel
Pablo's Tree
The Great Ball Game
Buffalo Woman
Morning Girl
The Mud Pony: A Traditional Skidi Pawnee Tale
Jingle Dancer
The Name Jar
Tree of Cranes
Good Luck Gold: And Other Poems
The Magic Paintbrush
Habibi
Ella Enchanted
Silent Lotus
Real Heroes

Hamilton, Virginia.  1974.  M.C. Higgins, the great.  New York: Macmillan
     Publishing Co., Inc.  ISBN:  0027424804.

 

          Mayo Cornelius Higgins, also known as M.C. Higgins the Great (because he is the best swimmer to come out of the hills), lives on the side of Sarah's Mountain.  His family has lived in these Ohio hills since great-grandmother, Sarah, a runaway slave, escaped to this mountain.

          As the oldest child, 15 year old M.C. spends his days watching out for his younger brothers and sisters, hunting and fishing, and observing his world from atop a 40 foot pole given to him by his father.

          Life would be idyllic if not for the ugly gashes sliced into the side of the mountain by bulldozers strip-mining for coal.  An enormous slag heap, left over from the process, is perched precariously on the side of the mountain facing M.C.'s home.  He has a recurring dream in which his family home is buried beneath this pile of rubble as it breaks loose and comes crashing down.

          This story weaves around this close knit, loving family coming into contact with two strangers.  M.C.'s worries seem to be resolved when he meets the "Dude" who has come to hear Banina, his mother, sing.  M.C. is convinced the Dude will help Banina become a famous singer and the family can move away from the dangerous situation at home.

          The other intriguing stranger, Lurhetta Outlaw, a few years older than M.C., travels from place to place, so she can see the world.  Her freedom and ability to see beyond the hills and mountains reveal more about the world than M.C. has ever considered.

          Through vivid, descriptive writing, the author takes the reader on a journey deep into the mystery and superstition of the Appalachian Mountains and the people who live there.  Some of the depictions of hunting and skinning are enough to make the reader cringe and at times the language becomes tedious.  This is a story for a mature reader who has persistence to keep on going.  Its worth it!

          More a story of  rural people living life on life's terms in the mountains who happen to be African-American, the reader can see through M.C.'s eyes as he develops an understanding of his father's deep commitment to the mountain and his own appreciation for his heritage.  In the end, the family stays on their beloved mountain.

          This novel has received numerous awards including the Newbery Award, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award.  Interestingly enough, Ms. Hamilton was born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a town her grandfather, Levi Perry, escaped to from slavery (Amazon.com).  Perhaps this gives her the insight to write as if she knows these people.  The reader comes away with a sense of what life was like in these hills.

About the author.  Available from http://www.amazon.com.  Accessed
     16 June 04.