Even ardent fans of Curtis’s Newbery winner, Bud, Not Buddy, may not remember Deza Malone, who shares dishwashing duties with Bud Caldwell during his brief stay at a Hooverville in Flint, Mich. Responding to readers’ pleas that he write a book with a female main character, Curtis traces the path that led Deza’s family to homelessness. It’s 1936 in Gary, Ind., and the Great Depression has put 12-year-old Deza’s father out of work. After a near-death experience trying to catch fish for dinner, Roscoe Malone leaves for Flint, hoping he’ll find work. But Deza’s mother loses her job shortly after, putting all the Malones out on the street. As in his previous books, Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative, using the Joe Louis–Max Schmeling fight to expose the racism prevalent even among people like the librarian who tells Deza that Louis is “such a credit to your race.” Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011 Release date: 01/10/2012 Genre: Children's
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