cover image Quinnie Blue

Quinnie Blue

Dinah Johnson. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-4378-5

Johnson's (Sunday Week) lyrical tale tenderly sketches an African-American girl's relationship with her grandmother. Addressing the older woman, the child asks rhetorical questions that show she is well-versed in stories of her grandmother's girlhood: ""Quinnie Blue, were you brave enough to walk right up the church aisle with everyone staring at you, saying `Tell it girl' and `Hallelujah?'"" As the text progresses, the girl starts to draw parallels between herself and Quinnie Blue, and then to retell Quinnie Blue's own stories: ""Skipping down the sweet-grass path, I bet you sang out for your pony, Sassafras. You'd kiss her nose and on you'd go."" Ransome's (The Creation) lifelike oil paintings, shifting between two time frames, reveal Quinnie Blue engaged in a variety of pastimes similar to those of her granddaughter. Also bridging the generations are snippets of art, ostensibly the creation of the narrator, which depict aspects of Quinnie Blue's life. This spot art, rendered in acrylics on wood and positioned against a grainy, woodlike background, almost pops from the page. Even more than the text, Ransome's closely focused portraits of girl and grandmother underscore the love shared by them and their close-knit family. Ages 4-7. (May)