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by Jonathon Scott Fuqua

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Jonathon Scott Fuqua vividly evokes life in a small Southern town in this powerful story of friendship, race, and learning to trust your own voice—in a world that doesn’t always welcome what you have to say.

"From my back porch, I can see where my best friend lives. Evette’s tenant house sits on my daddy’s property . . . but on

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Jonathon Scott Fuqua vividly evokes life in a small Southern town in this powerful story of friendship, race, and learning to trust your own voice—in a world that doesn’t always welcome what you have to say.

"From my back porch, I can see where my best friend lives. Evette’s tenant house sits on my daddy’s property . . . but on account of her being black and me being white, she hardly ever comes in my house, and I don’t go in hers. My daddy says that’s just the way it is." Darby Carmichael thinks her best friend is probably the smartest person she knows, even though, as Mama says, Evette’s school uses worn-out books and crumbly chalk. Whenever they can, Darby and Evette shoot off into the woods beyond the farm to play at being fancy ladies and schoolteachers.

One thing Darby has never dreamed of being - not until Evette suggests it - is a newspaper girl who writes down the truth for all to read. In no time, and with more than a little assistance from Evette, Darby and her column in the Bennettsville Times are famous in town and beyond. But is Marlboro County, South Carolina, circa 1926, ready for the truth its youngest reporter has to tell?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Fuqua's (The Reappearance of Sam Webber) thoughtful debut novel for young readers, a white girl living in South Carolina in the '20s sparks a controversy with her article supporting racial equality. Darby wants to be a "newspaper girl" after her best friend, Evette, the daughter of an African-American tenant farmer on her father's land, says that's what she plans to do. The publisher of the town newspaper agrees to print Darby's article about toads, and another about her blind great-uncle before her obligation to "tell the truth" leads Darby to tackle the issue of race (her consciousness is heightened after a black boy is beaten to death by a neighboring white landowner). She notices other inequalities, such as how her friends treat Evette at her ninth birthday party. Her article prompts the KKK to burn a cross on her property, but Darby finds allies, too, especially in her father. Some of Darby's discussions seem too mature for her age, but Fuqua's careful details fill in this complicated period in history and culture from descriptions of the games she plays with her friends to realistic interactions with her family. Darby's parents are kind, but their tenant farmers and servants live in poverty, and her mother reprimands Darby when she asks, "For setting slaves free, was the Civil War kinda a good thing?" These subtle conflicts add depth and realism: Darby and her family's small acts of kindness take on heroic proportions. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
An award-winning author's novel debut is the story of Darby Carmichael, a young white girl in Marlboro Country, South Carolina in 1926, and her best friend, Evette, the daughter of an African-American sharecropper who lives on the Carmichael property. Evette spurs Darby's interest in writing a newspaper column and, as the better writer, helps Darby hone her prose. The story Darby writes about how blacks are treated after a neighboring black boy is killed by a white farmer for trying to steal a chicken sets off a storm that culminates in the KKK burning a cross in the Carmichael front yard. The act's impact fades as the townspeople begin to understand the need for change, but society does not magically transform itself. Nevertheless, the novel is a hopeful, sensitive exploration of racial relations in the rural south of the 1920s. Darby is a complex, likeable character who is brave enough to stand up for what she believes is right. The author explains in his notes that, although he strives to maintain veracity in the story, he does not use the terms "colored" or "Negro" so as not to perpetuate the use of derogatory terms. 2002, Candlewick Press, Patterson
This book looks at a controversial issue from a child's point of view. It was interesting and worked in factual events. The writing style was easy to follow and was a fresh view about racism in society. VOYA CODES: (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Candlewick, 242p,
— Andrea Alonge, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-In a small town in Marlboro County, SC, in 1926, nine-year-old Darby Carmichael, the daughter of a white farmer and storekeeper, loves to play out in the woods with her friend Evette Robinson, the daughter of a black sharecropper. When Evette declares her ambition to write newspaper articles, she inspires Darby to follow suit. At first, the girl's efforts merely amuse the readers of the Bennettsville Times, but after lots of editorial help from Evette, Darby writes observant, thought-provoking columns. However, when the girl responds to a racially motivated murder by writing an article urging whites to treat blacks as equals, her family becomes the target of hatred and violence. The author's research, drawn from oral interviews, provides a balanced portrayal of an early-20th-century Southern community. Darby's first-person narration conveys self-awareness uncanny for a nine-year-old, and evokes the mood of a memoir. Darby's friends are not as fully developed as some of the adults, such as the newspaper editor and her parents, who, despite their apprehensions, ultimately make courageous choices. Darby herself is an admirable heroine who radiates confidence while maintaining humility.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It takes the na�vet� of a nine-year-old girl to light the wick of a chain of events that will affect racial bias in a small southern community. The term racial equality isn't in Darby's vocabulary, but in her daily life she's certainly aware of the differences between herself and Evette, her best friend, whose father is one of the tenant farmers for Darby's father. The girls go to separate schools; Evette has shabby clothes, lives in a tumbledown cabin, and is dirt poor. In 1926 in South Carolina, it's a way of life. It's Evette who excites Darby about becoming a newspaper girl when she tells her about her aunt who lives in New York City and writes for a newspaper. Mr. Salter at the newspaper likes Darby's first essay on why toads are safe and her next, about her blind Great Uncle Harvey. That's before a young black boy is beaten to death for trying to steal a chicken. When Mr. Salter decides to publish Darby's article on racial injustice, he calls it "a lesson in humanity from the mouth of a child." But her "lesson" begins an upheaval in the county that incites the Ku Klux Klan, cross-burning, and violence. It's Darby's voice that makes this story memorable, both the Southern colloquial cadence and expressions of innocent observations, e.g., Darby wanted to "take an eraser and rub the KKK out of my head like lines of chalk on a blackboard." The root of this work stems from a series of oral history interviews the author conducted�and that's what makes it ring with truth. Darby symbolizes how one person, even a child, can make a difference. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.94(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Hearing voices, I raised my eyes and saw Evette and her older brothers halfway down the dirt lane to their house. I got up and met them. "Hey, Joebean and Lucius," I told them.

"Hey Darby," they said.

Evette pointed at the notebook I had. "You got another story writ up?"

Nodding, I said, "You wanna edit it?"

"Long as my name gets in the paper."

"It's gonna," I promised.

"I sat outside while Evette changed into her play clothes. Then we went through the field and into the woods. Sitting down on top of a log, she read what I'd done. She read it agai, and lifting her face real slow, she gave me a look. "Is it okay?" I asked.

"Just needs some smoothing out. This one's done more professional than the last." She smiled at me.

"Do you think it's good?"

"I do," she told me, taking my pencil and marking my newspaper article in what seemed like a hundred different spots. She saw me watching, and said, "It ain't nothing."

DARBY by Jonathon Scott Fuqua. Copyright (c) 2002 by Jonathon Scott Fuqua. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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