Amy Hill Hearth, , illus. by Tim Ladwig. . Abingdon, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-687-03074-3

Offering a children's version of the 1993 adult bestseller Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, which she co-wrote with the Delanys, Hearth recounts the formative years of Sadie and Bessie Delany, African-American sisters who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., in the 1890s, and in the process delivers a striking history lesson. The structure could be problematic—the story starts with the births of the sisters without offering a clear reason for children to be interested in them. Further, the folksy, journalistic style, which incorporates plentiful quotes from the sisters, creates two temporal settings that the author does not reconcile: the concrete world of the sisters' childhood and the unidentified, abstract plane from which the sisters look back. However, readers will find a vivid picture of the sisters' upbringing and the values instilled by their parents (their mother was a teacher and their father, a former slave, was a minister and vice-principal of Saint Augustine's College). The family stresses the importance of forgiving others, faith in God and hard work. What may be of greatest interest is the contemporaneous views of historical experiences. The girls help elderly former slaves who "never got used to being free" and encounter Jim Crow laws. Ladwig's (Especially Heroes, reviewed below) admiring illustrations of the mostly happy sisters prominently feature the father in his clerical garb, subtly drawing attention to the spiritual subthemes. An endnote describes the sisters' remarkable adult careers. Ages 6-12. (Jan.)