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What was it like for children to grow up in the years of the civil rights movement in the United States? Author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s work of fiction, based on interviews and oral histories of people who lived under the sharecropping system in the American South from the 1920s to the 1960s answers that question by sharing three stories of members of the fictional Little family. In author notes, Davis Pinkney explains that her novel “takes a page-to-stage approach that dramatizes the limits of children living under the lash of oppression.” 

Employing stage directions, poetry, gospel songs, and lengthy monologues, readers hear the stories of children: Loretta Little (1927-1930), Roly Little (1942-1950), and Aggie B. Little (1962-1968). Each one bears witness; each goes and tells. About the injustices and atrocities of the sharecropping system: “When you’re a sharecropper, chickens do have more freedom than you.” About the brutality and hatred meted out on African Americans who worked peacefully to secure the right to vote: “They harassed adults, mostly, but we kids had a front-row seat to the darkest side of cruel. My friends were punched. Kicked. Spit on. Arrested. Mauled. Hauled to jail.” 

Steeped in faith and peppered with hope, this novel ends with wise words: “Please remember there’s a miracle coming in five minutes, or maybe more. But it is on the way. If progress is too slow for you, use that wait-time wisely.” Though recommended for children ages 8-12, the book is better suited to ages 12 and older due to its difficult subject matter. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

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