Virginia Hamilton, , read by Lisa Renée Pitts. . Blackstone Audio, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7861-8242-8
Pitts gives a sparkling performance of Hamilton's last novel, which was completed before her death in 2002. As precocious and likable 11-year-old Valena, Pitts is particularly sharp, a fact that will surely draw listeners into this tale that weaves together elements of Hamilton's authentic family history with a coming-of-age story. In the course of one eventful summer that includes a tornado, outings with relatives and a trip to an unusual traveling circus, Valena also hears tales about her heritage from her mother, Harriet. It's Harriet's recollections (referred to here as "reckons") that fill in some of the details of how Valena's grandfather escaped slavery with his mother and traveled the Underground Railroad from Virginia to freedom in Ohio (where Valena and her kin now live). Fans of Hamilton's body of work will recognize familiar themes and elements of her other books. Pitts plays both humorous and poignant tones with equal skill, making this an all-around entertaining listen. Ages 10-14.
Reviewed on: 03/14/2005