Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crow - a review

Wright, Barbara. 2012. Crow. New York: Random House.

Moses Thomas is part of a new generation.  Though his grandmother, Boo Nanny, and mother, were born into slavery, his father is a respected alderman and newspaperman in Wilmington, NC.  Somewhat segregated by choice, there is, nevertheless, a sense of community and purpose in this mixed race town.  Moses' father believes in education as the path to Negro prosperity.  Boo Nanny holds fast to the old ways,

"If I had me some cash money, I'd start a school of common sense, 'cause that's what so many needs and so few gots.  And you'd be my first pupil," Boo Nanny said to Daddy. "'Cause if it ain't in a book, you don't believe it.  The boy needs to learn by living, is all I'm saying."
Mrs. Thomas, a pragmatic woman, balances her mother's old ways and her husband's dreams of a bright future for their race.

But everything is about to change.  Boo Nanny sees it in the omen of a buzzard's shadow.  The rest of the family will see it only when it arrives in the form of another bird - a crow, Jim Crow.  Life as Moses has known it, is changing rapidly,

I didn't like all this talk about failure and mistakes.  I wanted the old Daddy back, the one who was wise and sure of himself and knew what to do.  Always.
 
"I raised you in the belief that what it took to succeed in life was the same thing that it took to be a good man: honesty and hard work, courage and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism.  But we're up against something I don't understand and don't know how to adapt to."
Based on true events from 1898, Crow is a powerful story from the fading days of Reconstruction.  Moses is a likable and believable 12-year-old, who struggles with the same issues as all 6th grade boys, as well as those of his time and his race.  Boo Nanny is an especially memorable character.  Wright offers a glimpse of hope in the story's conclusion as Moses and his white friend come to terms after the harrowing race riot of Wilmington, NC, 1898.

A powerful story accompanied by limited Historical Notes.

Best for upper middle grades.


Newbery Blueberry Mockery Pie, a blog maintained by librarians of the NJ Library Association's Children's Services Section, will be discussing Crow along with other possible 2013  Newbery Medal contenders.  Please feel free to join in the discussion!

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