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Posted April 14, 2012
What a wonderfulbook! A pleasure and a classic.
Running andDancing by Carol Fenner.
Michigan 1916 to1917. Bertine’s grandfather was a slavewho ran away from his owners in 1887. She is a very smart tomboy. Doesn’t like dresses. Wants to play with boys. Twelve years old andshe figures out how to drive a Model T. She’s willing to dive off the bridgeinto the river. She out-runs theboys.
Bertine’s niece,Alma, who is two years younger, is beautiful. She keeps her clothes clean. She does what the adults in her life ask ofher. So Alma’s life should be easy. Right? Well it isn’t. Alma has to fight the bullies. And thoughshe’s smart and always does her school work, she has a teacher that doesn’tappreciate her. And she wonders why hermother left and what happened to her father.
I loved thisbook. It got better and better as I readit. And when I finished, even though theending was great and satisfactory, I wanted to keep reading. I want to know what is going to happen to Almaand Bertine when they grow up. What a pleasure!
Posted March 14, 2012
I love this book!
The late Carol Fenner, an award-winning author of several juvenile fiction books, penned the adventurous, funny, and inspiring tale, Running and Dancing. This is a wonderful tale of two African American girls growing up in Michigan during the early 1900s. Bertine Coffey and her niece, Alma, are the stars of this story. They represent girl power at its finest. Fenner’s portrayal of beautiful, talented, and intelligent black girls being raised by Bertine’s widowed mother is flawless. The reader is treated to a front row view of the girls’ lives as they face growing pains, loss of a parent, and ever present racism.
As the story opens, eleven-year-old Bertine and nine-year-old Alma, take a joy ride in the car of their sister-aunt’s future husband. The action rises quickly as Bertine figures out how to navigate the 1915 Model T with Alma’s graceful insight. Fenner’s words paint a vivid picture of the two young girls whirling through the countryside as the car barrels towards town. The adventure in the Model T introduces the reader to the girls’ strengths and highlights their differences. Child-aunt Bertine is a tomboy who prefers playing with the neighborhood boys to wearing dresses and ribbons. Alma, whose mother left the Coffey home after giving birth to her daughter, is Miss Prim and Proper. She is inquisitive and well-spoken. Alma stays cleaner than any nine-year-old I’ve ever encountered in fiction or real life. The girls bicker constantly. They get on each other’s nerves during some part of every day; but when it counts the most Bertine and Alma support each other like sisters.
The author includes many challenges that some modern school-aged children may also face. Alma is abandoned by her mother. Bertine continues to miss her deceased father. Bullying becomes a problem for Alma until she follows her grandmother’s advice and stands up to her oppressors. Miss Bertine finds it almost impossible to cope with her maturing body, and desperately wishes that all of her developing parts would stop jiggling.
Readers will plead for Alma’s safety when her mother returns; they will cheer out loud for Bertine during the most important event of her young life. And they will come to know what true joy and contentment looks like within the security of a loving family.
Running and Dancing is the perfect story for school-aged girls; it teaches them to appreciate their power. Boys will also learn that they have a lot in common with girls. All readers will benefit from the history lessons about slavery and racism that Fenner incorporates into the book.
This is a beautifully written story; readers will fall in love with these girls. Running and Dancing is a book that will have a positive impact on readers of all ages. I highly recommend it.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers
Posted February 29, 2012
This early twentienth century novel recalls turn-of-the century southern MIchigan through the eyes of African-American family members, 11 year old Bertine and her younger niece, Alma Coffey. The story begins with a folksy, hilarious account of Bertine illegally driving a Model T. It goes on to explore experiences of segregation and rejection in their lives as well as joyous family relationships, and the prideful recount of a renowned family member who escaped from slavery via the underground railroad. A wonderful story about blackberry picking is reminiscent of "Blueberries for Sal." The name-calling, including of a homeless man, and issues of bullying, are similar to contemporary issues. Believable, poignant, heartwarming. Age 10+.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.