cover image HERE WE GO ROUND


Alice McGill, , illus. by Shane Evans. . Houghton, $15 (122pp) ISBN 978-0-618-16064-8

This somewhat stilted novel centers on seven-year-old Roberta, an African-American girl who goes to stay with her paternal grandparents in rural North Carolina after her pregnant mother is put on bed rest during the summer of 1946. Resentful of her soon-to-arrive sibling and of the fact that she must leave home, Roberta nevertheless refuses to confide her feelings to anyone, even when prodded by her grandmother. The child's ambivalence surfaces whenever she plays at the home of a neighboring family with a newborn, who begins to wail when Roberta tries to hold him ("I don't like babies.... Because babies don't like me," she announces). Unlike McGill's Molly Bannaky, this novel offers little feeling for the time or setting, though children expecting a new sibling will likely identify with Roberta's volatile emotions. Unfortunately, some extraneous dialogue and uneven pacing make the tale difficult to follow at times, and muddy its message (e.g., when Grampa attempts to explain family circles to Roberta: "The family circle can have a whole lot of circles.…One day you gonna become a part of a circle different from the one you in right now. That way, the circle go round and round for years and years. Folks in the family circle love each other like your daddy and mama love you"). Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (Feb.)