cover image Moriah's Pond

Moriah's Pond

Ethel Footman Smothers. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (111pp) ISBN 978-0-679-84504-1

Continuing the chronicle of Annie Rye, Maybaby and Brat begun in Down in the Piney Woods, Smothers's ebullient new novel centers on the adventures the girls share when they spend a summer in rural 1950s Georgia with their great-grandmother Moriah. Told in Annie Rye's distinctive, sassy voice, the narrative is chatty, unaffected and altogether convincing in its use of Southern black dialect (``Miss Maylene just about old as Moriah, so she liable to go into some kind of calniption if she knowed what shape she in''). Annie Rye supplies animated accounts of the routine at Moriah's house: swimming in the pond on a steamy afternoon, listening to her older relatives ``talk `bout them olden days'' and participating in an old-fashioned wash day. The novel's drama, meanwhile, derives from interconnected plot lines involving Annie Rye's troubled relations with lonely Betty Jean (granddaughter of Moriah's white employer and landlord) and Brat's struggles with a dangerous infection. An author's note explains that much of the book is autobiographical; readers who enjoy matching fact with fiction will appreciate the photos of the three real-life heroines that appear on the back of the jacket. Ages 8-13. (Jan.)