Crow

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Overview

The summer of 1898 is filled with ups and downs for 11-year-old Moses. He's growing apart from his best friend, his superstitious Boo-Nanny butts heads constantly with his pragmatic, educated father, and his mother is reeling from the discovery of a family secret. Yet there are good times, too. He's teaching his grandmother how to read. For the first time she's sharing stories about her life as a slave. And his father and his friends are finally getting the respect and positions of power they've earned in the ...

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Overview

The summer of 1898 is filled with ups and downs for 11-year-old Moses. He's growing apart from his best friend, his superstitious Boo-Nanny butts heads constantly with his pragmatic, educated father, and his mother is reeling from the discovery of a family secret. Yet there are good times, too. He's teaching his grandmother how to read. For the first time she's sharing stories about her life as a slave. And his father and his friends are finally getting the respect and positions of power they've earned in the Wilmington, North Carolina, community. But not everyone is happy with the political changes at play and some will do anything, including a violent plot against the government, to maintain the status quo.

One generation away from slavery, a thriving African American community—enfranchised and emancipated—suddenly and violently loses its freedom in turn of the century North Carolina when a group of local politicians stages the only successful coup d'etat in US history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adult author Wright, in her first book for children, presents a hard-hitting and highly personal view of the Wilmington race riots of 1898 through 11-year-old narrator Moses. Though the story initially meanders, the pace builds as Wright establishes the Wilmington, N.C., setting, with its large black middle class, and Moses’s family life, which is primarily influenced by his slave-born grandmother, “Boo Nanny,” and his Howard University–educated father, an alderman and a reporter at the Wilmington Daily Record, “the only Negro daily in the South.” Wright sketches a nuanced view of racial tension and inequality from Moses’s sheltered yet optimistic perspective, such as a bike shop’s slogan contest that is only open to white children, or the farmer who fires Moses after he helps another okra picker determine his true pay. A Daily Record editorial ignites racial backlash and catalyzes a series of attacks on hard-won rights, thrusting Moses and his father into the violence of the riots. This thought-provoking novel and its memorable cast offer an unflinching and fresh take on race relations, injustice, and a fascinating, little-known chapter of history. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 1, 2012:
“The expert blending of vivid historical details with the voice of a courageous, relatable hero makes this book shine.”

Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, January 1, 2012:
“Wright has taken a little-known event and brought it to vivid life, with a richly evoked setting of a town on the Cape Fear River, where a people not far from the days of slavery look forward to the promise of the twentieth century.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011:
“This thought-provoking novel and its memorable cast offer an unflinching and fresh take on race relations, injustice, and a fascinating, little-known chapter of history.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2011:
"Relying on historical records, Wright deftly combines real and fictional characters to produce an intimate story about the Wilmington riots to disenfranchise black citizens. An intensely moving, first-person narrative of a disturbing historical footnote told from the perspective of a very likable, credible young hero."

VOYA - Ursula Adams
Crow takes place in the post-Civil War southern community of Wilmington, North Carolina, about thirty years after slavery was abolished. This historical fiction, based loosely on factual material, chronicles the injustices faced by African Americans (then known as Negro or colored) during the years following slavery. It is told in first person by the protagonist, Moses Thomas. Throughout the book, Moses, who is coming-of-age, recognizes the prejudices that surround the people of his race. Many incidents surface in which Moses realizes that he and his family and other "coloreds" are not being treated the same as those who are white. Two other major characters in the book who influence Moses's thinking are his father and Boo Nanny, his grandmother. His father, an educated newspaper journalist, teaches Moses about the importance of education and to stand up for his beliefs in a racial world, while Boo Nanny, a former slave, reflects the impact slavery has had on her life. Riots, political corruptness, and racial territories between the black and white communities are all addressed in this story. The story is extremely well written and will transport the reader through Moses's eyes to this time of social unrest. This is an excellent story for young readers to sense the trials and injustices African Americans endured in the post-Civil War south. Reviewer: Ursula Adams
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
The somewhat sheltered, studious son of a Howard University graduate, twelve-year-old Moses has grown up as part of Wilmington's thriving African American community in the late 19th century. His father is a city alderman and a reporter/manager of the only Negro daily in the South; his mother is the daughter of a slave and works as a maid to a rich white woman. Racism is part of Moses' life but not a dominant concern; summer fun is what is on his mind. As the summer passes and elections loom, there is mounting tension in the city, primarily stemming from an inflammatory editorial run in his father's paper. Using Moses' friendships and activities to inform the reader of the social strata in both the white and black communities, Wright subtly lays the groundwork as hostilities increase and the naive Moses becomes more aware—and involved. He helps the editor escape town and races to his father's office to warn him of the oncoming white supremacist mob, which succeeds in burning down the newspaper's offices. Violence and political corruption overtake the city as Moses faces the harsh realities of his world. Wright adroitly creates her main characters, most especially Moses and his grandmother Boo Nanny, an uneducated, former slave, who tries to help Moses understand the world in which he lives. Blending real and fictional characters and telling the story through the eyes and feelings of young Moses works extremely well. The gripping tale, based on a little known uprising, provides readers with an emotional, yet realistic, look at life for Blacks at the time. Moses is a credibly drawn young man, forced to face disturbing injustices. This outstanding historical fiction novel will linger in readers' minds and should be read by literature circles or in social studies classes. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In this moving, first-person narrative, Wright draws attention to the lesser-known historical events of the 1898 Wilmington, NC, race riots and coup d'etat where racist insurrectionists overthrew the local government and perpetrated widespread attacks on black citizens. She depicts the harrowing events leading up to the riots through the eyes of Moses Thomas, an 11-year-old African-American boy. On his last day of school, he narrowly avoids coming under the shadow of a buzzard, a harbinger of bad luck according to his grandmother, Boo Nanny. Indeed, the bird's ominous appearance foreshadows several racist acts against Moses as well as horrific tragedy for the Thomas family. Moses is a studious boy, and deeply inspired by his father, a Howard University graduate and reporter for the Wilmington Daily Record, the only black-owned newspaper in the South. However, Boo Nanny feels that her grandson is too focused on school to notice the effects of the pervasive racism surrounding him and tries to educate him on the harsh realities of life. The boy's education comes at a price when he risks his life to help the Daily Record's editor escape, and later when he's trapped in the newspaper's building during the insurrectionists' attempt to burn it down. Wright adroitly charts Moses's emotional growth from a self-involved boy into a poised, socially aware young man. The expert blending of vivid historical details with the voice of a courageous, relatable hero makes this book shine.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Growing up in Wilmington, N.C., in 1898, a naive black boy and his family are devastated by a racist uprising in this fictionalized account of a little-known historical event. On his last day of fifth grade, a buzzard portentously casts a shadow over Moses Thomas, prompting his grandma, Boo Nanny, to warn: "[Y]ou happiness done dead." Moses lives with Boo Nanny, a former slave who takes in white people's laundry, his Mama, a housemaid for wealthy whites, and his Daddy, a reporter and business manager of the Daily Record, "the only Negro daily in the South." Graduate of Howard University and an elected alderman, Daddy ardently believes in the power of education, and Moses tries to follow in his footsteps by reading library books, learning vocabulary words and maintaining perfect attendance at school. In contrast, Boo Nanny thinks her protected grandson "needs to learn by living." When a mob of white supremacists burns the newspaper office and arrests his father, Moses becomes dangerously involved and discovers what it means to be his father's son. Relying on historical records, Wright deftly combines real and fictional characters to produce an intimate story about the Wilmington riots to disenfranchise black citizens. An intensely moving, first-person narrative of a disturbing historical footnote told from the perspective of a very likable, credible young hero. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375969287
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA WRIGHT grew up in North Carolina, and has lived all over the world, from France, to Korea, to El Salvador.  She has worked as a fact-checker for Esquire and as a screenwriter. This is her first novel for children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2012

    Some stories need to be told, and Crow is one. Although forgott

    Some stories need to be told, and Crow is one. Although forgotten or deliberately repressed throughout the shades of time, a race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, changed the course of history and made race relations and individual progress regress for decades. Through the unwinding of the story of young Moses, teetering on the self-realization, we soon see that his coming-of-age resembles a plunge down a precipice rather than a climb to a peak. The times in which anyone lives definitely impacts the people they become, and while Moses does indeed have a normal family and adolescence—skinny dipping, doing chores, going to school—his life becomes indelibly marked by the strong strain of ugly and violent discrimination that takes over much of the town’s white population. Yanked from day to day joy of existence, even distancing the issues of right and wrong, Moses and his family, his entire community, must focus on survival. Not all of them make it.

    One of the greatest threats to human relations is to view another as an object. This occurs in instances of rape, war, theft. It cannot be denied that races also dehumanize one another. Yet who of us has ever tried to put himself in the place of a young Negro boy at the turn of the 20th century? In this, Crow makes a major creative leap to enable us to do so. Through this fictionalized account, we run smack into racism whether we think we want to know or not: the acceptance of Darktown, tiffs between white and black boys; even the state of being routinely maligned, cursed, denigrated. Yet somehow a boy’s childhood remains illuminated by the details of everyday life and its joys and challenges, including Moses’s final and most terrible one. Although billed as a young adult novel, this book will appeal to all ages, especially since definite hints of darker secrets, such as sex between races, are raised. (Wise parents might want to read with their adolescents and be prepared for sensitive questions.) Yet in the final analysis, Moses reminds me most of his contemporary in time—the young Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in his untrampled and often unsupervised life, running wild and free, curious and learning with every cell in his body.

    He also sets up echoes that reverberate down the years to our contemporary example of injustice—the death of young Trayvon Martin. We now know that racism and discrimination have not died the death they so richly deserved, or and we wonder just what is still wrong with us and our society?



    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Great

    This might be the most historically accurate story of this time period I have ever read. It correctly portrays the life of a young african-american. Very developped characters make this a must have.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    Best book ever!!

    This book is so amazing because of the graficdetails in it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2014

    Awesome

    Best book ever

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Awesome

    Poop this was

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2013

    Crow

    Same

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Hello

    Want to chat

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Tap here

    Ha

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Neverdeath

    Hey. I roleplay Omashu at New Pools to, so, see yu there

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Inkkit

    Waits

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Tigerfur

    Comes in with his mate.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Silverfrost

    Hello? I need to find out if im really pregnent.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Quetzalkit

    Wheres Ravenstar I want to join Magpieclan

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

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