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Children's LiteratureA young girl is excited when the train carrying the famous singer Bessie Smith comes to town. But she is depressed because she cannot afford a ticket to the performance. She manages to peek through the tent flap to see her idol. But then the Night Riders arrive, for these are days when the Ku Klux Klan is active in the South. She runs to warn those inside. The Riders seem to have come to burn down the tent and those in it. But Bessie bravely comes out and confronts them. The horses bolt, and Bessie goes back inside to continue singing, taking our young heroine with her for an evening she will never forget. The "Author's Note" tells us that the story is based on a true event and then fills in the background. Holyfield's acrylic paintings on canvas produce double-page scenes that bleed off the pages with a sense of drama. First they are filled with the young girl's anticipation and desire to hear her idol sing; then with the darkness of night and the strong color contrasts of Bessie's red dress, the Klan's white sheets, and the flaming torches. The final scene is one of musical delight. 2006, G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz