cover image Front Porch Stories at the One-Room Scho

Front Porch Stories at the One-Room Scho

Eleanora E. Tate. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08384-2

A hot summer night in the tiny town of Nutbrush, Mo., proves ``duller than dirt'' for 12-year-old Maggie Carson--until her father starts to regale her with stories of his childhood. These tales, centered in the one-room schoolhouse for the town's black children, comprise the 10 stories in this collection based on Tate's own childhood. The loosely connected episodes, which range from village ghost stories to an account of a local flood, lack the overall narrative development and the fully fleshed-out characters necessary to support a whole book. Although Tate's ( Just an Overnight Guest ) evocative language conjures up rural southern life, her book is further flawed by somewhat heavy-handed exposition and stilted dialogue that at times borders on the saccharine. Because of Tate's framing device--readers see Maggie sit on the schoolhouse porch as she listens to her father--the tales lack a certain immediacy. The text also contains an important, but rather pedantically delivered, message about segregation in America. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 7-11. (Sept.)