cover image Granddaddy's Gift

Granddaddy's Gift

Margaree King Mitchell. Bridgewater Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-4010-9

As in her Uncle Jed's Barbershop, Mitchell again tenderly explores the courage of African Americans in the pre-civil-rights-era South; this time, however, she addresses the evils of segregation more directly. The narrator, known as Little Joe because she follows her grandfather Joe Morgan everywhere, describes how Granddaddy braves racist whites and passes a test on the Mississippi Constitution to become the first black registered voter in town. Fearful neighbors shun Granddaddy and Little Joe finds herself cut off from ""used-to-be friends."" But when their church is set on fire, the black community unifies and joins Granddaddy in registering. Adopting an intimate, personal voice that evokes both Little Joe's adoration of her grandfather and the gravity of his situation, King deftly imparts to the reader Granddaddy's belief in the importance of education, valor and pride. With a warm palette and blunt, short brushstrokes that underscore the moment's import more than the characters' individuality, the talented Johnson (When Jo Louis Won the Title) captures the drama of history in the making. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)