cover image From Miss Ida's Porch

From Miss Ida's Porch

Sandra Belton. Four Winds, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-708915-8

``There's a very best time of day on Church Street. My street. It begins when the sky and my feelings match, both kind of rosy around the edges.'' So begins Belton's lyrical first book about the stories that unfold as neighbors gather to share the twilight on Miss Ida's front porch. In a leisurely, poetic style that evokes the sights and sounds of the nameless girl narrator's neighborhood block, Belton uses the gathering as a jumping-off point to introduce readers to two African American icons--Duke Ellington and Marian Anderson--and their importance in the lives of a generation of black Americans. Against the background of the darkening sky, Church Street's older residents pass on to the children their most cherished recollections: one neighbor tells of a visit to his town by the legendary jazz master, another movingly recalls attending Anderson's famed recital at the Lincoln Memorial. Like the rapt children on the porch, readers will receive a memorable and personal introduction to the larger issue of racial segregation. Cooper's ( Grandpa's Face ; Chita's Christmas Tree ) full-page paintings affectingly capture the fading light on the young and old faces and complement the nostalgic quality of the story. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)