Celeste's Harlem Renaissance
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Celeste's Harlem Renaissance

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by Eleanora E. Tate
     
 

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It's 1921, and when Celeste Lassiter Massey goes to stay with her Aunt Valentina in Harlem, she is not thrilled to trade her friends and comfortable North Carolina surroundings for scary big city life with a famous actress. While Celeste absorbs the excitement of the Harlem Renaissance in full swing, she sees as much grit as glamour. A passionate writer, talented

Overview

It's 1921, and when Celeste Lassiter Massey goes to stay with her Aunt Valentina in Harlem, she is not thrilled to trade her friends and comfortable North Carolina surroundings for scary big city life with a famous actress. While Celeste absorbs the excitement of the Harlem Renaissance in full swing, she sees as much grit as glamour. A passionate writer, talented violinist, and aspiring doctor, Celeste eventually faces a choice between ambition and loyalty, roots and horizons. The decision will change her forever.

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book
"Complex, distinctive, and well developed. Celeste's wide-eyed observations...pull readers in."
Booklist
"Readers will connect with [Celeste's] strong, regional voice. Both sobering and inspiring, Tate's novel is a moving portrait of growing up black and female in 1920s America."
From the Publisher
"Tate has created a fully realized heroine....Readers will likely happily accompany Celeste on her journey."—Publishers Weekly"

Complex, distinctive, and well developed. Celeste's wide-eyed observations...pull readers in."—The Horn Book"

Readers will connect with [Celeste's] strong, regional voice. Both sobering and inspiring, Tate's novel is a moving portrait of growing up black and female in 1920s America."—Booklist"

Tate has an eye, and an ear, for the ambience of the era. Celeste and her friends and family are well-conceived individuals, both real and imagined....Absorbing."—Kirkus"

[Tate] draws her characters with charming humor and multidimensional candor."—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

Tate's (Don't Split the Pole) latest offering, a historical novel set in 1921, stars 13-year-old Celeste Lassiter Massey, who lives in Raleigh, N. C., with her father and his cantankerous sister, Aunt Society ("She was the only person I knew who loved to sit in a wheelchair, even though she didn't need to"). Celeste often plays the violin with her father, a former soldier with lingering health problems, and she dreams of becoming a doctor. But when her father enters a sanitarium after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, Celeste is sent to live with her Aunt Valentina in Harlem. Celeste-who has been told that Aunti Val lives in a mansion and sings and dances-is unprepared for what she finds. Rather than starring on Broadway, Aunti Val makes her living scrubbing floors, unable to secure stage work. Celeste is angered that she is expected to work too, though over time, the two make peace and Celeste's musical abilities earn her praise as a neighborhood prodigy. (A local café proprietor gushes, "When you play that violin it's like you're just strollin' down a Harlem street on a fine Saturday afternoon, and we're all just strollin' with you.") Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, Celeste must return to Raleigh to care for Aunt Society, who has suffered a stroke. In Celeste, Tate has created a fully realized heroine, whose world expands profoundly as she's exposed to both the cultural pinnacles and racial prejudices of her era. Readers will likely happily accompany Celeste on her journey. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Pat Trattles
When Celeste's father is institutionalized because of tuberculosis, she is sent to New York to live with her Aunt Valentina, a famous actress who lives in a mansion in Harlem. Celeste is less than thrilled to leave her North Carolina home, her father, the maiden aunt who has taken care of her ever since her mother's death, and all her friends. Still, the glamour life she imagines with Aunt Valentina does hold a bit of intrigue. Celeste's New York adventure, however, seems doomed from the start. Her suitcase and most of her belongings are stolen while waiting to change trains in Washington, D.C., and when she finally makes it to New York, she discovers her down-on-her-luck aunt is not making her living on stage but rather is scrubbing floors to make ends meet. Celeste is forced to grow up quickly as she deals with the gritty side of life in New York while the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing around her. Just when everything is falling into place and Celeste can picture herself settling permanently in Harlem, she is called back to North Carolina and must start all over again in finding her place in the world. This is a wonderful coming-of-age story highlighting the struggles between family loyalty and personal ambition. More importantly, it gives readers a wonderful peek into what it was like to be growing up black and female during the 1920s in America.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7 - In 1921, when her father is sent to a tuberculosis sanitarium, motherless 13-year-old Celeste takes the train from her home in Raleigh, NC, to Harlem, NY, to live with her glamorous Aunt Valentina. She soon finds herself scrubbing theater floors with Val and living in a windowless studio apartment. When Val lands a spot in the chorus of a groundbreaking Broadway musical, Celeste mixes with African-American celebrities until she is called back home to care for her abusive Aunt Society, who has suffered a stroke. This enjoyable story is crammed full of well-researched historical details. Celeste evolves from a wide-eyed, naive, bashful girl into a young woman unafraid to speak up for herself and follow her dream to be a doctor. Aunti Val is a self-absorbed yet charismatic woman struggling to make her way, too often at the expense of Celeste's needs. Tate deftly handles the complexities of their relationship. She draws her characters with charming humor and multidimensional candor. At times her tone is cloying, though, and the dialogue tends to lay on a "Gee whiz!" aspect with a heavy hand. She loads the book with references to real historical figures and events, sometimes to the detriment of narrative flow. The predictable plot aside, however, fans of historical fiction will stick with Celeste, eager to see her true blossoming at the end. Gail Carson Levine's Dave at Night(HarperCollins, 1999) is a faster-paced novel set during the Harlem Renaissance.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Celeste's father has tuberculosis and must go into a sanatorium. Her aunt can't take care of her alone, so she must go to another aunt, an entertainer who lives in Harlem. As she travels from the South, she begins a coming-of-age journey that encompasses physical and emotional maturity, as well as a greater understanding of the people who touch her life-in essence, her own Harlem Renaissance. In 1920s Harlem, she encounters poets, musicians, philosophers and ordinary people struggling to survive and thrive in a society that is not as overtly racist as in the South, but has its own limitations placed on people of color. Tate has an eye, and an ear, for the ambience of the era as it is reflected in both the strictly segregated South and the new ideas emanating from Harlem. Celeste and her friends and family are well-conceived individuals, both real and imagined, and represent the wide variety of characters and personalities of African-American society without reverting to stereotypes. Absorbing. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316113625
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
750,578
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Eleanora E. Tate's many acclaimed books for young readers include The Secret of Gumbo Grove, Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!, Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School, and Just an Overnight Guest, which was made into an award-winning film. She lives in North Carolina.

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Celeste's Harlem Renaissance 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago