Miz Berlin Walks

Overview

Every evening, old Miz Berlin walks around Mary Louise's long block, talking to herself. One day, the girl follows Miz Berlin, and finds that she's telling stories. And they're wonderful stories-about feathers falling from the sky, hurricanes of years past, and even her own birth. Every evening, Mary Louise walks with Miz Berlin, absorbing her tales. And when Miz Berlin can no longer walk, she leaves the girl stuffed full of stories to tell.

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Overview

Every evening, old Miz Berlin walks around Mary Louise's long block, talking to herself. One day, the girl follows Miz Berlin, and finds that she's telling stories. And they're wonderful stories-about feathers falling from the sky, hurricanes of years past, and even her own birth. Every evening, Mary Louise walks with Miz Berlin, absorbing her tales. And when Miz Berlin can no longer walk, she leaves the girl stuffed full of stories to tell.

"This poignant book conveys through simple words the power of stories to build bridges between two very different people."-Booklist

"Yolen is pitch-perfect in her delivery of this tender tale."-Publishers Weekly

Mary Louise gradually gets to know and love her elderly neighbor lady who tells wonderful stories as she walks around the block of her Virginia home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yolen is pitch-perfect in her delivery of this tender tale of the friendship that blossoms between an elderly white woman and an African American girl. Miz Berlin is well known in her neighborhood for the long and slow walks she takes around the block each evening. Mary Louise can't help wondering about the odd lady, who seems to be talking to herself as she passes by. One day Mary Louise's curiosity impels her to accompany Miz Berlin for a short stretch of the walk, and to her delight she discovers Miz Berlin's talent for spinning stories. The two form a poignant bond that sustains Mary Louise even when Miz Berlin's walking days come to an end. Dedicating her story to her real-life grandmother, Fanny Berlin, Yolen adopts first the voice of the grown Mary Louise, who narrates the tale in flashback, and then interpolates the voice of Miz Berlin. Her mellifluous text, occasionally peppered with Southern dialect, has the easygoing pace of her heroines' strolls. Atmospheric descriptions of wind that "whispers kindly through the tall sycamores" and "the time it rained feathers" provide Cooper (Gingerbread Days; Ma Dear's Aprons) with choice imagery for his subtle, grainy paintings soaked in Virginia sunlight. He pairs lively portraits of Miz Berlin and Mary Louise with scenes of Mary Louise imagining herself in Miz Berlin's adventures, progressively involving the reader and strengthening the implied message that storytelling has a reality of its own. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
A storyteller's dream, this rhythmic blank verse tale knits a tight weave between an elderly white woman and the young black girl who one day summons enough nerve to trail along on Miz Berlin's walk-and-talk odyssey. Rather than a bewitched or crazy person, she finds a kindly soul with some outlandish yarns and other experiences paralleling her own. Although in the end she loses her new friend, she gains the gift of storytelling. The illustrations, surprisingly, are spotty: "The oldest woman in the world" needs more realistic wrinkles and stoops than she is given. Even more disturbing, however, is her glamorization for the cover, where she sports a bobbed nose and facelift!
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3Cooper's ability to define and personalize characters and his soft-focus technique, which gives a nostalgic veneer to his artwork, make him a wise choice for this touching tale. Over the course of the story, the faces of the narrator, a young African-American girl, and Miz Berlin, an elderly white woman, fluctuate with emotion as the two begin and enjoy a friendship in a small Virginia town. Miz Berlin, "talking or singing or in quiet contemplation" walks the town, and although Mary Louise can only accompany her to the end of the block, she finds the woman's stories of catching crawdads on the day the sky rained feathers, living through a hurricane, or being born in a dirt-floor cabin captivating and comes to know the woman in a wonderful way. At the end, when Miz Berlin dies, the girl realizes that she has shared an experience that will be part of her life forever. While a number of intergenerational stories are available, most center on a grandparent-grandchild relationship; this, like Nancy White Carlstrom and Amy Schwartz's Blow Me a Kiss, Miss Lily (HarperCollins, 1990), focuses on a friendship between two non-related people. The cross-cultural cast is an added plus.Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698118454
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 598,795
  • Age range: 3 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.02 (w) x 10.02 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen
JaneYolen lives in Massachusetts.

John Schoenherr lives in New Jersey.

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