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
Celeste's Harlem Renaissanceby Eleanora E. Tate
When Celeste Lassiter Massey is forced to live with her actress Aunt Valentina in Harlem, she is not thrilled to trade her friends and comfortable North Carolina for scary, big-city life. While Celeste experiences the Harlem Renaissance in full swing, she sees as much grit as glamour. A passionate writer, talented violinist, and aspiring doctor, she eventually faces a choice between ambition and loyalty, roots and horizons. The decision will change her forever.
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, KSCopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Hachette Digital, Inc.
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 341 KB
- 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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